33rd Sunday Reflection: Deification Through The Apocalypse
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B – (Mark 13:24-32) –
There is a mystic moment that waits for each one of us, it finds us, encounters, and enfolds us. It is a moment in the cracks between the ‘now and then – already but not yet’ that crashes into our awareness. It is a moment in the shadow between the ‘I and the Not I’.
This is the fiery baptism of unknowing, dying, and disintegration, the apocalypse of desert grace that needs this total vulnerability to be united with Love source.
For many, this will be the death experience, yet the desert fathers and mothers, mystics, and hermits in every time and place, have held themselves in readiness for this encounter in the silent prayer of solitude and presence.
A lucid recognition of a procession of people, slowly beginning then ever quicker from those around us to distant family and friends, from the living to those who had died. The great and small events of our lives, the events and people of history and their crumbling monuments slipping through moments of our awareness into the blazing explosion of galaxies and stars. Another moment, and then a churning fall through the brilliant light into the abyss of total darkness and chaos before time, no up or down, no this way or that, the emptiness of nowhere, and the desolation of unknowing.
Each one of us, at some time, comes to this experience of darkness, an annihilation, the end of our lives, as we had experienced them up to a particular crisis. Our world falls apart in those days and there is no safe place to stand; a time of distress when the sun is darkened, the moon loses its brightness, the stars come falling from heaven, and the great powers of heaven are shaken.
Some crisis in our lives comes along, we lose someone we love, someone we depend on, someone dear to us. Perhaps a spouse proves unfaithful, rejects our love or we lose our income, our reputation, our business, and perhaps even all that we hold dear.
Somehow, it is in these darkest moments of staring into the abyss that we discover inner resources we didn’t know we had, when friends and family, and sometimes even strangers rally around us. A time when we perceived only the deepest grey winter, but through the eyes of others we came to see that the twigs of the fig tree have become supple, that there was a possibility of a new summer, a new era and hope coming into being, empathy and compassion are born within us.
It is out of these darkest and loneliest moments, in the midst of all the turmoil, that we receive a great grace, that we understand perhaps for the first time the great gift of faith. Out of the annihilation of what we held to be our very life’s purpose, letting go of our every aspiration, out of that experience of being solitary, that we begin to truly know what it is to Love and to Be Loved.
Sharing in the anguish of the cross, a time when we also cry out in the great silence, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me, to experience the awe and redeeming power of the Holy One standing with us, speaking to us by name, knowing us as beloved.
It is out of this experience of Love, that all fear is conquered and all illusions of control and the need to dominate disappear. It is out of this experience of Love, that hope is born out of knowing with unshakeable confidence that heaven and earth will certainly pass away, but the Love of God for us will not pass away.
Without this experience of Love, this experience of God, we may have all types of longings and hopes, but ultimately we are without hope. Without this experience of Love, this experience of God, I may climb all the many ladders of desire and success only to find that ultimately I have been climbing up the wrong wall. This is the real place of paradise lost when all our fabrications dissolve and the final flicker of hope dies.
The proclamation of the Kingdom of God when all sins are forgiven (Hebrews 10:18) and the final apocalyptic vision which is rightly called the mother of all Christian theology, restores our hope, calling us back from panic, denial, or lethargy.
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