Readings for this Sunday bring the Kingdom of God into focus.  The Kingdom of God consists in reciprocal attitudes between God and the Faithful.  The Book of Daniel 12:1-3 begins with the Faithful praising wisdom, whose source is God, and forming an inner attitude toward the rest of realty.  Psalm 16 is about a Faith-filled attitude of worship, worship that is the essence of the Kingdom of God.  Hebrews 10:11-14, 18 explains the attitude of the New Testament, whereby Jesus forgives sins and enables the Faithful to obtain union with God.  The Gospel of Mark 13:24-32 reflects the attitude of the Faithful toward Jesus and his Kingdom, shortly after the fall of Jerusalem.

 

Daniel has an interesting analogy from indicating that God created out of the firmament to that God will return the wise who shine brightly, back into the heavens to “ … be like the stars forever … ” (Daniel 12:3) That is the attitude of God toward the Faithful in the Kingdom of God.[1]  The idea of shining also carries the idea of teaching.[2]

 

Leading the many to justice, in Daniel 12:3, suits an attitude of compassion from the Faithful toward groups abused by the circumstances of life.  The Church suggests the reading from Daniel as suitable for funerals.[3]  The reason is the positive attitude expressed toward “… a time unsurpassed in distress …,” a time when the Faithful

“… shall escape …” (Daniel 12:1).  Daniel explains “… some shall live forever …” (Daniel 12:2).

 

Claudia Setzer develops a distinction between flesh and body in early Christianity.  Her concern is about the nature of the resurrection in the Kingdom of God.  Part of her work focuses on Daniel 12:1-3, used today.  Her distinction between flesh and body is developed through the rest of these Notes.[4]

 

Psalm 16 expresses an attitude toward God as part of the Kingdom of God.  As the Responsorial antiphon puts it, “you are my inheritance, O Lord!”  Psalm 16 expresses a holy intimacy with God.  Psalm 16:9 mentions “my body” and Psalm 16:9 and 10 “my soul.”  In the case of the Kingdom of God after the resurrection, scholars like Setzer distinguish flesh from body.  Flesh means the individual, whereas body may mean the group, as a body.  As Mary E. Mills puts it, “ … Esther is, like Daniel, an individual body that mirrors the pain of a larger social body.”[5]  The Kingdom of God is not only about individuals, but also about bodies or groups of individuals.

 

When David wrote Psalm 16, he did not have himself in mind when he expected deliverance from death and corruption.  Both Peter and Paul attribute this expectation to the messiah whom David foretold.[6]  The Faithful, like the Messiah, also expect a bodily resurrection in the flesh from the dead.

 

While the Faithful know Saint Paul for referring to the mystical body of Christ, this selection from the Letter to the Hebrews mentions neither body, nor soul, nor flesh.  The idea of the suffering Christ, as part of the Kingdom of God, however is present.[7]  In the First Testament, priests prided themselves on descent from Aaron.  Jesus, however, the Eternal High Priest, prided himself on his ascent upon his Cross, before he “took his seat forever at the right hand of God”  (Hebrews 10:12).[8]  By his example, Jesus expects the Faithful to do likewise in the Kingdom of God.

 

Getting behind the English translation, Max Zerwick, S.J. and Mary Grosvenor comment on the Greek for the verb, take away.  The reference is to taking away sins in Hebrews 10:11.  Zerwick and Grosvenor comment, “take away/remove what surrounds.”  The Greek meaning seems to mean not only removing the sin, but the occasions for sin as well.  Traditional Christians regard Original Sin as the cause of death and the corruption of the body.  In the Kingdom of God, God eliminates death and corruption.

 

Mark seems to invite the Faithful not only to read the Gospel, but also to continue the Gospel by their lives, thereby bringing the Kingdom of God into an earthly dimension.  Some significant scholars, such as P. M. Casey, think that Chapter 13 is more historical fiction than fact.[9]  This means that the Kingdom of God has a place for human creativity and development of the Kingdom of God.  Chapter 13 covers the Kingdom of God in mystery.

 

Frank J. Matera refers to Mark 13 as “the most puzzling chapter for any interpreter.”[10]  Some scholars resolve the puzzle by supposing Mark considered what he thought Jesus would have said and done and then wrote it as if Jesus had said it and done it.  In this way, the Faithful are to be living Gospels, doing and saying what Jesus would say and do before various other events, before Jesus finally comes back in his full glory[11] for the Kingdom of God.

 

Latin American scholars delve into overcoming abuse as an aspect of the Kingdom of God.  Latin American scholars helped Elliot C. Maloney, O.S.B. with the insight to write about Mark 13:28-32 [used this Sunday].  “It is here that Jesus will show how the Son of Man comes again and again, after the destruction of the temple, in the lives of the persecuted and otherwise tempted followers, until finally comes the end, the Parousia so important in the early Church.”  Unconvinced by Maloney, Matera concludes his review, “Paul, for example, certainly viewed the Parousia in linear fashion as an end-time event without any suggestion that the Lord comes again and again when oppressive powers are overcome.”[12]  Matera notwithstanding, I like the idea that, for the Kingdom of God, the Lord comes repeatedly, in the hearts of the Faithful, through time.  The Kingdom of God consists in reciprocal attitudes between God and the Faithful.

 

Time is a problem.  When Jesus says “this generation will not pass away,” (Mark: 13:30) a future-oriented American reads something in the future, though that is neither what is said nor the meaning.[13]  This generation means the present, rather than a future generation.  There is also such a thing as imaginary time, which only God knows, “only the Father”  (Mark 13:32).[14]  In the apocalyptic age of Mark, there is also procedural time.  “ … and then he will send … ” is part of the larger set of verses, Mark 13:3-27, of which the Lectionary uses 24-27 here.[15]  When it comes to understanding God, the best way to understand time is all-at-once, rather than sequential.

 

Mark probably set his Gospel down about 80 A.D., that is, after the fall of Jerusalem.  The Faithful were still in an apocalyptic rather than an institutional mode.[16]  Stephen L. Cook writes, Mark is about “the eschatological travail which is to precede the parousia,” or second coming.[17]  The mention of angels in Mark 13:27 and 32 suggests a reliance on something other than the institutional Church for finding and proclaiming the Kingdom of God.  The Faithful for whom Mark writes feel a direct relationship with the Spirit, expressed in the third decade of the Rosary Luminary Mysteries of Light.

 

The readings for this Sunday suit the third decade of the Rosary Mysteries of Light, namely the proclamation and coming of the Kingdom of God.  Daniel expresses this Kingdom as an expression of wisdom.  Psalm 16 takes an attitude of inheriting God as a royal kingdom.  Hebrews explains that only the original Cross of Christ and the subsequent crosses of the Faithful legitimate such an attitude.  Finally, the Gospel of Mark encourages the Faithful to take the Spirit of Christ unto themselves so that they become living Gospels.

 

 

For more on sources see the Appendix file.  Personal Notes are on the web site at www.western-civilization.com/CBQ/Personal%20Notes



[1] Margaret Barker, The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy (London: T & T Clark International: A Continuum imprint, 2003) 162.

 

[2] J. Ross Wagner, “From the Heavens to the Heart: The Dynamics of Psalm 19 as Prayer,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 61, No. 2 (April 1999) 258.

 

[3] N.a., International Commission on English in the Liturgy: A Joint Commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences, The Roman Ritual: Revised by Decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and published by Authority of Pope Paul IV: Order of Christian Funerals: Including Appendix 2: Cremation: Approved for use in the Dioceses of the United States of America by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and Confirmed by the Apostolic See (New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1998) 211.

 

[4] Bruce Chilton, review of Claudia Setzer, Resurrection of the Body in Early Judaism and Early Christianity: Doctrine, Community, and Self-Definition, the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 1 (January 2006) 159.

 

[5] Mary E. Mills, “Household and Table: Diasporic Boundaries in Daniel and Esther,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 3 (July 2006) 417.

 

[6] Richard J. Dillon, “The Benedictus in Micro- and Macrocontext,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No 3 (July 2006) 475.

 

[7] Scott W. Hahn, A Broken Covenant and the Curse of Death: A Study of Hebrews 9:15-22”, the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 3 (July 2004) 421, 424, 436.

 

[8] Margaret Barker, The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy (London: T & T Clark International: A Continuum imprint, 2003) 393

 

[9] David Seeley, "JesusTemple Act Revisited: A Response to P.M. Casey," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No 1 (January 2000) 56.

 

[10] Frank J. Matera, review of Elliot C. Maloney, O.S.B., Jesus’ Urgent Message for Today: The Kingdom of God in Mark’s Gospel, the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 4 (October 2004) 660.

 

[11] Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels (Grand Rapids, Michigan/ Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002) 294.

 

[12] Frank J. Matera, review of Elliot C. Maloney, O.S.B., Jesus’ Urgent Message for Today: The Kingdom of God in Mark’s Gospel, the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 4 (October 2004) 660.  The quotation from Maloney is on page 123.

 

[13] Bruce J. Malina, “Christ and Time: Swiss or Mediterranean?” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 1 (January 1989) 4.

 

[14] Bruce J. Malina, “Christ and Time: Swiss or Mediterranean?” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 1 (January 1989) 15.

 

[15] Bruce J. Malina, “Christ and Time: Swiss or Mediterranean?” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 1 (January 1989) 23.

 

[16] David J. Downs, “`Early Catholicism’ and Apocalypticism in the Pastoral Epistles,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 4 (October 2005) 658.

 

[17] Stephen L. Cook, “The Metamorphosis of a Shepherd: The Tradition History of Zechariah 11:17 + 13:7-9,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 3 (July 1993) 465.