Reflection on the Gospel of the Thirty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time
The Gospel passage of today describes what the glorious coming of the Son of Man at the end of the world will be like. This is to be the real hope of the disciples in contrast to the false hopes, Jesus has warned against up to this point. This coming will happen only after – not before or during the tribulations described in 13:14-23. How long after? “In those days” is a common biblical expression for the “final time” but it offers no precise indication as to when the events will occur
The coming is also described in Old Testament terms, specifically Daniel Ch 7, except that the Son of Man does not come to the throne of God but he comes to do what God does – to gather the scattered people of God (Deu 30:3-4; Ps 50:3-5; Is 43:6). For this purpose, he sends out the angels the Son of Man will gather the people to himself.
Just as the budding fig tree heralds the summer, so do the events mentioned refers to a specific coming event as a signal for the elect. The fall of Jerusalem and the shifting of God’s centre from the Temple to the Son of Man (13:30) does not mean that Jesus predicted the end of time and the Parousia (his glorious coming) within the lifetime of his listeners. The prophecy applies to the destruction of Jerusalem and its consequences for the new people of God.
God’s word outlasts all creation; so too does the words of Jesus. The people of the early church were given a sign with regards to the destruction of Jerusalem being at hand (13:14; 29-30), but there will be no way of knowing the moment of the glorious coming of the Son of Man (13:32). This is the Father’s secret, not given to the Son to reveal (Acts 1:6-7)
The Gospel passage thus exhorts us to be awake, take heed, keep watch and persevere in being faithful disciples of the Lord.