“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” The context of these words of Jesus, in the Gospel of Mark, suggest his words relate to that moment in time when “they will see the Son of Man coming from the clouds with great power and glory.” At least, this is how we normally listen to these words of Jesus recorded by Mark. But the words also have great meaning in the present.
In the present is where the ancient writers sought to focus our attention, even when they wrote in poetic and apocalyptic styles. The images they used, the visions they described, anticipated the end times drawing our attention to the present. They are sign posts heightening our awareness of a future which is close and one which is a bit farther away. The two manifestations of the future are but one reality. “But of that day or hour, no one knows.” This is certainly true of the end of times which everyone will experience, no one knows except the heavenly Father, but it also true of our own personal life. No one knows what might happen to them this evening, tomorrow and a week from tomorrow.
What will the coming year bring? How secure am I in my job? Will I get COVID or will my afflictions and sufferings ever go away? We are generally, not very comfortable with the unknown, and do not easily accept the uncontrollable, we do not deal well with the ambiguities of the future. Most people want to know what is ahead, in misguided hopes that we can control almost any situation. We want to calculate every move we will make, every choice we shall make. The steady emergence of those claiming to be able to tell the future are becoming very popular and big business, from printed materials of long-lost ancient prophets, horoscopes and psychic hotlines selling their services to those who need to know their futures. Why? Because without the faith the uncertainties of the future are downright terrifying. Without faith and trust, accepting the ambiguities is to accept helplessness; and helplessness is something we are taught to avoid at all costs.
Very quickly we become control freaks. Soon we find ourselves on the road of our misguided belief we can really control our lives. If the pandemic has brought any good it is the sober realization, we control very little.
The misguided and inevitably frustrated bid for total control leaves no room for anyone else in our lives. It suffocates an openness of God to touch us with his grace and providence. Predictably, we find ourselves wandering down a very dark and lonely road. Dark because our own light will pass away as time passes away. Lonely, because there is no one journeying along with us- not even God!
This darkened path of calculation and control can only lead us to an end of time. Efforts to control our own destiny completely by trying to avoid helplessness, ultimately gives birth to hopelessness. The darkened path takes us straight into death, not simply physical death, but a life-less-ness that can overshadow our very being.
Faith informs us life is eternal marking out the path of hope and trust, the prerequisites of believing.
And herein lies the irony of the journey of faith.
In our attempts to know and control all things, we come upon the end time.
In our willingness to be swept away in the winds of grace, we come upon