Mark 13:24-37 Jesus said, “In those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
Reflection Jesus’ graphic words remind me of most mornings when I turn on the computer to read the breaking news; sexual harassment and misconduct, firing of intercontinental ballistic missiles, challenges to privacy and free speech, inflammatory twitters, racism, sexism, agism, classism, cronyism, lying, cheating, killing innocent people, hurricanes and wildfires, starving children, seas of refugees. The list goes on and conjures images of the sun and the moon going dark, and the stars falling from the sky. I am tempted to pull the plug on my computer, go back to bed and drag the covers over my head. But the news of the day does not go away any more than Jesus’ concluding instruction. “Keep awake!”
Jesus counsels, “When darkness sweeps over the earth and all that you have counted on to be reliable and true seems to be falling from the sky into the abyss, keep awake, for it is out of the midst of darkness that new light rises.” When dark is at its darkest and things appear to be at their worst, that is when we must keep awake, to have hope for something new, to expect something good to arrive. The thing is, we cannot predict when this new light is coming so if we pull the covers over our eyes and succumb to the temptation to go to sleep, there is every chance we will miss the experience of something new and good and surprising. And if we miss it, how will we share it? How will be pass on the revelation of God’s light?
I believe the answer is fairly straightforward. When we “keep awake” we refuse to succumb to the darkness and we become the revelation of God’s light. Every time we choose to be emissaries of peace rather than purveyors of disharmony and discord (rather than forwarding the nasty political cartoon, delete it) we are the revelations of God’s light. We are the revelations of God’s light every time we choose to cultivate love rather than breed neglect and enmity (by generously giving to the panhandler rather than speculating about how they are working the system). We are the revelations of God’s light every time we choose to express joy rather than misery and desperation (talking about our blessings rather than complaining about our difficulties or scouring the news for perversions or people to castigate).
When we refuse to succumb to the subterfuge of darkness and decide to “keep awake” we become the revelation of new light which is nothing less than a new way of being human, a new way of being the peace, love and joy we hope for all humanity.
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