20 Nov Revealing the Nearness of the Kingdom
The Little Apocalypse
This Sunday’s Gospel reading from Mark (Mark 13:1-8) is called the Little Apocalypse. Don’t let that scare you though. The word apocalypse usually brings up images for us of death, destruction and catastrophe. It’s true that Jesus describes earthquakes and war and famine, but there is more than just destruction in this passage. The literal translation for the word apocalypse is “an uncovering or a revelation”. It means something is being revealed.
Here Jesus is revealing God’s kingdom, not through an army marching on the Roman government; not through a great king building an expensive and extravagant palace or temple, that is how they expected the Messiah to come in Jesus’ day. Instead Jesus himself reveals the greatness of God in his life and death right in the middle of all this pain and destruction. In our beginning and in our ending, Jesus is our hope.
Prior to this Little Apocalypse passage, Jesus criticized the temple authorities and lifted up the humble generosity of the poor widow who gave her last two pennies to a system that wouldn’t help her. The tumbling of the temple stones and really all of this destruction, show us that the system that oppresses people will soon be over and justice and mercy will reign.
Big & Small Stones
Jesus reveals how close God is to us. In his birth and in his life, in all those small actions of love, when he heals the sick and talks to people others would avoid and when finally he is sentenced to death on a cross – it all reveals God’s love for us and the nearness of the kingdom. Even though we tend to notice the large stones, instead of the small actions of love, ultimately it isn’t big stones and impressive buildings that Jesus builds up.
It is some wood, a few nails, and a carpenter who dies next to two criminals and is placed in a tomb. It seems like an ordinary death, a sad event for sure, but not really impressive until we know the whole story. Who could have known that it would change everything? There aren’t big stones in Jesus’ story even though we look for them. Instead we find small actions of love and hope in the middle of pain.
This faith we have isn’t about having all the answers or trusting in the large stones we see around us. Our faith isn’t about the next biggest shiny thing and it isn’t about being overwhelmed into static indecision. Those stones can make us feel like we aren’t enough. But Jesus reminds us that each small, seemingly insignificant action of goodness reveals the nearness of the kingdom of God. Can we as people of God step back and see the nearness of the kingdom of God?