Meditation of Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa: XXXIII Sunday of Ordinary Time, year B, 2021

Published: November 11 Thu, 2021

Meditation of Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa: XXXIII Sunday of Ordinary Time, year B Available in the following languages:

November 14, 2021

XXXIII Sunday of Ordinary Time, year B

In these last Sundays of the Liturgical year, the theme of looking has occurred several times. The final meeting of Jesus on his way to Jerusalem is the one with Bartimaeus (Mk 10:46-52), who is healed of his blindness. Then, last Sunday, we had followed the episode of the widow, with the invitation of Jesus to look at the gesture of this woman, and to look, on the contrary, by those who seek only the gaze and approval of the people (Mk 12.38 -44).

It’s as if Jesus wanted to admonish His disciples, just before His passion, so that they might learn to gaze at things with a new look.

Today’s passage, in the thirteenth chapter of Mark (Mk 13: 24-32), is placed in the eschatological discourse.

Having trained our gaze on the way, it appears particularly valuable to us.

Jesus speaks first of the coming arrival of anguished days, tribulation and pain. He says something will happen that is so serious and unheard of, that everything will be upset.

He is not talking about the end of time, but about the present, about the life of every man: the last times are those that begin with Easter, and especially with the moment of the cross. In fact, in the verses we have read, there are various references to the passage that narrates the death of Jesus. We could say that in this eschatological discourse Jesus does not tell of anything other than what will happen on the cross, and from the cross onwards.

The first thing to see is that everything goes dark (Mk 13:24). Sun, moon, stars, everything will cease to shed light, and for this, it will be difficult to see.

Sun, moon stars – points of reference of the sky, namely, what is more stable and sure in creation – will also diminish. It’s the sign that a world is ending, that time is ending.

When Jesus is crucified, right then, the sun will darken (Mk 15:33), and it will mean that with His death a world will end. The cross is above all the end of something, and that something is the world of sin, the world where man is a slave to evil. With the cross of Jesus, this world ends.

But that is not all. Because right in the deepest darkness, it happens that someone can see something new, that the Son of Man is coming (“Then they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds with great power and glory” – Mk 13:26) that on the cross the Lord is giving life.

We could say that the cross is like a watershed: in the face of the spectacle of this crucified man, there is someone who cannot see and cannot help but taunt and outrage Him.

But there is someone else instead who sees: in Mark, this is the centurion, a pagan, a soldier, a guilty one. A distant one, therefore, who in the dark, however, sees that whoever dies like this, without saving himself to save others, can only be the Son of God (Mk 15:38).

And it is strange that it is not the disciples who do it, but one who is there by chance. And this is to tell us that the disciple is above all one who lives by grace, who receives a gift. Who sees not because he has understood, but because he welcomes an entirely undeserved gift. The path of the disciple is to accept the grace of seeing with the eyes of the Risen One.

Then we could say that in the anguished days of life what makes the difference is the look. Not the strength, not the social status, not goods. Nothing remains of this. But if the gaze can see beyond, then he discovers that in the darkness comes the light. That life comes only from the death of Jesus.

The Christian gaze is a gaze that can grasp the rhythm of Easter within the realities of life, with the same confidence as those who, looking at the buds of a tree, know that summer is near (Mk 13:28).

And he knows how to start over just when everything seems to end.

It is not, therefore, a matter of waiting for something new to happen, so that the choices of life should be postponed to another possible moment: everything has already happened, and it is, first of all, to realize it, to see precisely, and to choose. It is a matter of letting ourselves assemble in our dispersions and illusions to immerse ourselves in life without fear.

We have emphasized the centrality of the gaze, but today’s passage ends with listening: when everything passes, an eternal and faithful Word remains (“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” – Mk 13:31 ). As if to say that only those who listen and rely on the Word of God can indeed see the new that is born and thus await the full revelation of the future world, which the Father continues to give to man, uniting him ever more intimately with the Passover of the Lord Jesus.


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