Chapter 13 is a prophetic chapter: Jesus prophesizes about the End Times. The language is stark and at times violent. Remember that the Israelites thought the coming of the Messiah would usher in a new era, a new period of time. This new era would be marked by physical markers: Jesus describes these, although not in the same way as the expectation in vv. 3-8. The greatest sign, it appears from Jesus’s teaching, will be the destruction of the temple (vv.1-2). This will occur on many levels and at different times: the veil of the temple will be torn following Jesus’s death; Jesus, who often refers to himself as being the temple, at least the cornerstone (like he did in chapter 12); and finally in 72 AD the Romans will completely destroy the Jewish temple marking the end of Temple Judaism as history has recorded it.
The Great Tribulation that Jesus describes in vv. 14-23 precedes the coming of the Messiah (some times called the “Son of Man”) that Jesus relates in vv. 24-27). This is probably set off the Pharisees something fierce because Jesus is essentially making himself to be God here, and if there is one thing the Pharisees can’t stand, it’s blasphemy.
But at the end of this chapter, Jesus sets down the prayerful and peaceful disposition that he wants all to wait for his coming. This is the essential message of our Liturgical celebration of Advent: Watch! (vv. 32-37) Those who have lived the Gospel, responded to the Lord, and embraced repentance are ready for His Coming, so they’ve nothing to fear. Jesus tells them, “Just watch and wait for my coming.”
That’s where we want to be!
Point for Prayer
A elderly priest friend of mine once told me: “The best thing you can do to prepare for Jesus’s coming is always to know what you’re doing. If you can always know what you’re doing, then chances are, most of the time, you’ll be doing right. And that’s a good thing to be doing.”
How am I doing in the watchfulness department? Anything I need to change right now to put me in a state of grace- into a positive, life-giving, and loving relationship with God?