The Readings for this Sunday’s Eucharist could be said to be difficult – difficult to understand and difficult to accept – at least the Reading from the Book of Daniel, and the Gospel from St Mark.

Here is just a little ‘piece of my mind’ that I would like to share, on the Gospel, as I tried to see a little more than what at first meets the eye.

I reminded myself that as I hear: ‘This is the Gospel of the Lord’ I must remember that this is a word of love – so if I can’t find the ‘love’, then I must take a closer look. As we were reminded here during the week, we must not only accept the words of Scripture which appeal to us – all Scripture, every syllable, is a communication of the love of God to each of us. So I looked again, and the words which caught my attention were there in the parable of the fig tree:

‘.. know that he is near; at the very gates’..

With the help of our community sharing on the readings for today, what came to me was the conviction and the promise of Jesus, that he is with us – always – to the end of time. The Gospel opens, giving an idea of the end of the world almost, a great depression, a great sense of hopelessness and of nothing to live for – even the stars and the sun and the moon will fail. But why are we told this, if not to be invited to keep our eyes open – ‘see these things happening’ and ‘know that he is near’. Don’t be afraid!

As one of our sisters reflected last night – at the foot of the cross, all these things did happen – Jesus, God himself gave up his life for us – ‘there was darkness over the whole land’ (Mk 15:33); ‘the earth quaked, the rocks were split..(Mt 27:51). All of his followers, his disciples and friends, all but his mother, a few women and the beloved disciple had deserted him in fear – what could be more hopeless?

Where is the word of love in all this? If I look again, the word ‘see’ catches my attention, and I remember that Jesus is constantly inviting me to follow him, to keep my heart set on him, to trust him and to love him. In all this he is asking me to seek HIM, and I remember the first words I noticed – ‘know that he is near; at the very gates’.

Jesus asked his own mother to wait with him at the foot of the cross – to watch her only son die – would you wish such pain on anyone? And she loved him enough to be there, to want nothing other than to be there where he needed her to be. There was Love – His first, because before she existed, He loved her; but hers too, Mary’s pure love – at the worst time you can imagine, the two greatest loves we will encounter, were there in the darkest darkness.

We people who hope in God, and who believe in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord and Redeemer, we need to keep our eyes open to Him always, and if we do – truly and with the humility to acknowledge that it is not always easy – if we call on Him when we are left with nothing, we will discover that he IS near – ‘at the very gates’.

Think about the gates too – things you pass through to get out of one place and through to another. Jesus – He is there, in the place you are leaving behind and already there where you are going – always waiting for you.

Always waiting for YOU.