Day 160: Jesus warns the people

Mark 13:1-2 Although the Pharisees and Sadducees were divided on the issue of the resurrection from the dead and the afterlife, first-century Jews in general believed there would be a day of God’s judgement when the Jews would be victorious over their oppressors and nonbelievers. The Temple was a symbol of that future triumph. Christ’s words predicting the destruction of the Temple would have been shocking to the ears of a first-century Jew. (CCC 2612)

Ch 13:3-13 Troubled by Christ’s statement about the Temple, the Apostles asked for details of this catastrophe. He then spoke about the persecution of his followers that would take place. Those who believe in Christ will suffer greatly and will even lose their lives. They will be brought before courts and tribunals on account of the faith they profess. There will be false prophets, false doctrines, and infidelity, so the faithful must remain vigilant. Yet, the Holy Spirit will strengthen the faithful in their time of trial and will teach them what to say. Those who persevere in living and faith, even in the face of violence and death, will be rewarded in Heaven.  In speaking of how the Gospel “must first be preached to all nations,” Christ stressed the universality of the Gospel and predicted it would reach every corner of the world. (CCC 672-674, 2849)

Ch 13:14-23 The great tribulation Christ spoke of here pertained to the destruction of Jerusalem, but it also applies to the persecution of Christians throughout history to the end of the world. Those who are true disciples of Christ will suffer and must avoid being misled by false prophets and deceitful individuals claiming to be the messiah. Patience and hope are necessary to endure these trials. (CCC 1820, 2642)

Ch 13:14 Desolating sacrilege: The prophet Daniel referred to the desecration of the Temple by pagans (cf. Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). Here, it served to predict the desecration that would precede the Temple’s destruction by the Romans. (CCC 2112-2114, 2120)

Ch 13:24-27 Christ foretold his Ascension as well as his Second Coming at the end of the world, when he will judge the living and the dead. Descriptions of calamities were often used in the Old Testament in connection with punishment for infidelity. (CCC 675-677)

Ch 13:32 Nor the son, but only the Father: This teaching underlines the need of Christ’s followers to always be prepared to welcome him when he returns. (CCC 474)

Ch 13:37 Watch: This final word summarizes the fundamental theme of this chapter. Christ cautioned the faithful to be vigilant and always ready to meet the Son of Man when he comes again. The imminent destruction of Jerusalem and the prospect of judgement at the end of the world serve as an incentive for fidelity and perseverance. (CCC 673, 1014, 2849)

Ch 14:1-11 With Christ now in Jerusalem, the determination of his enemies stiffened. Yet, they feared a public outcry and even a riot if they arrested him, who had a significant following among the Jewish people. When Judas approached the chief priests to plot Christ’s arrest, their plan of action began to take shape. (CC 574)

Ch 14:1-2 The Passover feast commemorates Israel’s liberation from Egypt and involves a shared, sacred meal. In the days of the Temple, Jewish men were required to celebrate this feast in Jerusalem; thus, the population of the holy city would increase several times over as pilgrims arrived. (CCC 1363)

Ch 14:5 A denarius was one day’s wages for a laborer (cf. Mt 20:2). The estimate of the perfume’s worth of three hundred denarii makes it very expensive indeed.

Ch 14:8 The bodies of those who received the death penalty for their crimes were not anointed with the usual perfumes and ointments used in Jewish burial practices. The anointing of Christ by the woman in this passage prepared him spiritually for burial in anticipation of his Death by crucifixion. (CCC 1523)

Ch 14:12-21 At the Passover meal Christ celebrated with his disciples, he announced his betrayal by an Apostle. Because God can bring good even out of evil, our free choices for evil can, by the mysterious operations of God’s grace, be integrated into his plans for our redemption. (CCC 597, 1339)

Ch 14:21 It would have been better...not been born: This statement was made to stress the enormous gravity of Judas’s sin. However, God alone knows the degree of sin and guilt of each who played a role in Christ’s betrayal and Death. (CCC 597)

Ch 14:22-25 Christ, the spotless Lamb of God, offered his very Body and Blood as he instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper. The Eucharistic liturgy is a participation in the heavenly banquet and a re-presentation of the one Sacrifice of Christ. At the Last Supper, Christ’s Eucharistic Sacrifice anticipated his Passion and Death in an UNBLOODY MANNER. In every Mass, that one same Sacrifice is renewed. The Church has always taught that following the words of Consecration, the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is referred to as the REAL PRESENCE, while the manner of the change is described as TRANSUBSTANTIATION. (CCC 1339-1340, 1374-1378)

Ch 14:22 Note how the words used to describe Christ’s actions in the institution of the Eucharist were also used earlier to describe the multiplication of loaves (cf. Mk 6:41). The words “took,” “blessed,” “broke,” and “gave” clearly link the feeding of the crowds with the institution of the Eucharist. In turn, the institution of the Eucharist foreshadowed the offering of his Body on the Cross. These same words are used in the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass. (CCC 1328-1332) 

Ch 14:24 Just as the blood of sacrifice was poured out at Mt. Sinai to establish the Old Covenant with Moses, so was the Blood of Christ’s Sacrifice poured out to establish the New Covenant. The sacramental offerings of his Body and Blood reaffirms Christ’s New Covenant of grace and love. (CCC 1365)

Ch 14:25 The “new” wine represents the wedding feast in Heaven, “where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ” (CCC 1335). Christ’s Passion and Death are the DEFINITIVE PASSOVER and, at the same time, the reception of the Eucharist is the DEFINITIVE PASSOVER MEAL. (CCC 1402-1403)

Ch 14:26-31 Christ predicted the Apostles would abandon him and Peter would deny even knowing him. His earlier teaching about how they would have to face persecution would not keep them from fleeing him. Only after Pentecost would the Apostles have the strength of love to join the Master in his suffering. 

Ch 14:32-42 The first abandonment of Christ occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane is Hebrew for “oil press.” Rather than remaining awake and watchful, as he had asked, the Apostles fell asleep while Christ prayed. Prayer and watchfulness are essential in resisting the temptation to reject the Cross and to persevere in our commitment to Christ. 

The weak: This describes the FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM OF SIN. We must not only desire the good but must train ourselves to control our sensual appetites. Prayer and self-denial (mortification) are essential to this battle. (CCC 2849)

Ch 14:36 Remove this chalice...what you will: In his anguish and fear, Christ asked his Father for a reprieve from his imminent suffering. While Christ approached his Passion and Crucifixion with anguish, he clearly stated in his prayer that he COMPLETELY ACCEPTED the Father’s will. (CCC 473, 2607, 2620, 2701)

Ch 14:43-52 With Christ’s arrest, the disciples abandoned him. Included among those who fled was a young man who ran away naked. Some scholars suggest this may refer to Mark himself. (CCC 1851)

Ch 14:55 The whole council: The Sanhedrin-from the Greek syn and hedra, meaning “with seat”-was the highest court in Jewish law, and the Romans allowed it to have broad authority over both religious and civil affairs. Presided over by the high priest, the Sanhedrin included the chief priests (former high priests), elders, and scribes. (CCC 443, 585)

Ch 14:58 I will destroy this temple...not made of hands: Christ did predict the destruction of the Temple (cf. Mk 13:2) but was referring here to the temple of his body that would be rebuilt in three days through his Resurrection. (CCC 593)

Ch 14:62 I am: These words of Christ are reminiscent of YHWH (cf. Ex 3:14-15), the name of God given to Moses. Here, Christ accepted the title “Son of the Blessed” (i.e., “Son of God”), leading to his conviction for blasphemy. 

At the right hand of Power: This indicates Christ’s glory and honor as one of the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed both affirm that Christ, after his Ascension, sits at the right hand of God the Father. (CCC 659, 663)

Ch 14:63 Tore his clothes: A dramatic act that expresses great distress or sadness as well as indignation and protest against sacrilege or blasphemy. By rending his clothes, Caiaphas accused Christ of blasphemy; however, he also violated the same Mosaic Law (cf. Lv 21:10) under which he had just condemned Christ. As John pointed out, the tunic of Christ, a symbol of his eternal high priesthood, would not be rent (torn) (cf. Jn 19:23-24). 

Ch 14:66-72 Although Peter denied Christ, just as he had predicted, Peter IMMEDIATELY recalled those predictions and wept bitterly out of sorrow for his sin. (CCC 1429)

Psalm 68 The people of Israel were very much aware of their history and their traditions. For this reason, they frequently mentioned specific hallmark events in praising God: the liberation from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the divine guidance through the desert, the revelation of the Law, the defeat of Gentile armies, and the entrance into the Promised Land. This psalm is no exception. They also cherished the Temple in Jerusalem because therein God was especially present for them. These praises resound throughout the Book of Psalms. 

Father of the fatherless: Another cause for praise is that the Lord has a special affection for the weak and poor, whom he protects and cherishes; he is Father both because he is the Creator of all and because of his paternal love for Israel expressed through his covenant and the Law.

Sinai quaked: This is a reference to the revelation of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai amid theophanies in clouds and frightening thunder. 

Wings of a dove covered in silver: This is a poetic term for the people of Israel as they entered the Promised Land (cf. Hos 11:11). 

You ascended the high mount: Paul connected this verse with the Ascension of Christ and the subsequent descent of the Holy Spirit (cf. Eph 4:8). 

Leading captives in your train: St. Irenaeus likened the captives to those he brought to redemption, who had formerly been enslaved to sin.

Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth: All the world is invited to recognize the one true God and to receive the gift of Salvation. (CCC 238)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven, yes, may you be blessed now and forever. You do, just like in Psalm 68, you led your people from Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion. You led your people from Mt. Sinai wrapped in cloud and wrapped in fire to Mt. Zion, the Temple and your Holy Place where you dwell with your Holy Spirit where you called your people to worship you. Lord God, you bring us today, even, into worship of you. You bring us today to the place where you dwell. You bring us today where your presence abides even as we hear today from Mark’s Gospel, you are giving us the Last Supper, you are giving us Jesus’ Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Last Supper. Lord God, you have called us to worship you at the Mass and we thank you for that gift. And we thank you for the gift of being willing to endure agony for us, endure humiliation for us, to enter into your Passion for us. We don’t deserve it. And yet, your love led you to the Cross. Your love for us and your love for the Father led you through Gethsemane. And we can only thank you with our prayers but also, Lord God, with our everything. With our everything may you be praised. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”