Today, we start a new Church Year, Year B in our three-year cycle. In Year B, most of the Gospel Readings come from the Gospel According to Mark. As usual, on the first Sunday of a new year we don’t start at the beginning of the story. We start at the End.
By ‘the End’, theologians may mean the ‘Last Things’, the Last Judgement and beyond. But really, more often they are talking about the ultimate things: the end as the ultimate purpose of the world God has made. That is, they are talking about the new world God is bringing into being, the kingdom of God.
When we look at the hope of a new world, the kingdom of God, and when we look at the present reality—Ebola, seemingly perpetual war in the Middle East, climate change, children in indefinite detention—it’s easy to say it’s all too hard, we don’t want to think about it, it’s got nothing to do with my life today. Let me just do my job, enjoy my family, get a nice house and veg in front of the TV. Let the government work it out.
But sometimes, it all gets too much for us. The world is in such a mess that we may cry out with Isaiah in frustration to God:
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down…!
But nothing happens. Our cries die in our throats. The heavens stay closed. God remains hidden. The world goes on as it always did. The rich still build bigger barns, the poor still sit on the ground outside the rich man’s gates.
So we shrug our shoulders, we go back to the little bit of life that we know, and try to forget about the rest. Continue reading