Talking abut the 'end times'. Lets start at the end of today's reading: "But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, nobody but the Father." That surely puts an end to many discussions!
This gospel passage is obviously a pre-existing collection of phrases of Jesus adapted to the conditions of the infant Marcan Church. There is great persecution in Rome from where Mark is writing. Peter and Paul have almost certainly been martyred by this time. There is great turmoil. The call is for perseverance.
The context is about the Temple, its beauty and its longevity. Mixed with apocalyptic language of the Book of Daniel is a definite description of two actual events. The Temple will be destroyed by the Romans and the Second Coming of the Lord.
The Parable of the Fig Tree
Outside my kitchen window is a frangipani tree. I have spent the bleak winter watching its nakedness. Then on exactly the first of October the bald branches began to shoot buds that have become in six weeks very large leaves. I am waiting for the smell of the lovely white flowers! Jesus uses the example of the fig tree. I am not too familiar with fig trees, but I guess it is much the same as the frangipani. We know the 'end times' are near, at the very gates, when we read the signs.
Prophecy in scripture is rarely fully understood till after the event. All of the contemporaries of Jesus knew the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah but do you know any that understood them? Prophecy is a gift for this world only. We will not need it in heaven. We can talk face to face. It is a gift for this world. It is to encourage, to console and affirm us on the journey. These prophecies in the Scripture are to remind us that "heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."
We know part of the answer. There will be tribulation. You can read the signs of the times. You are living now in the last age, the age between the crucifixion of Jesus and the end of the world. Live like the end is near. Leave any worries about the timing to the Father. This reading is to warn and encourage the Christian community to persevere.