Saturday, 14 November 2009

The sun will be darkened (Mk 13:24)

This weeks Gospel is taken from Mark 13:24-32. I will base my reflection on the first part of the Gospel reading. The last few weeks have been an interesting journey, in hindsight, and I think this part of the Gospel, where Jesus is quoting Isiah, is a good theme to build a personal reflection upon regarding this journey.

"But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken" Mk 13:24-25
"The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light". The journey into the night is a slow gradual one, it is full day time and the sun is shining, everything looks beautiful, but then slowly the power of its light fades away, and the bright colors filling our soul become less distinct, and gradually, without being able to observe the change we find ourself in the night...

And this is not something negative, the daily cycle of our world, and of our lives. However, I think I found myself on this path, and found myself in the darkness without realizing I was walking that path, without realizing the time has slipped by, and suddenly it was dark...

In the last few weeks the philosophical studies have been very busy, and I have spend a lot of time trying to understand and make my own the viewpoints of a range of philosophers. I wanted to do well, and maybe do to much, looking more to the future then I was to the present. We had essays to write, background reading to do etc. etc. just the normal things of the student life.

However, I found myself on a journey I did not want to go, that is I ended up in a "place" I didn't want to go. By trying to make the views of the (modern) philosophers my own I had to start a journey into their world of understanding, and found myself on a path of which I did not know where it would lead me, a path into the unknown... and I found it to lead to places I rather would not go.

I often make the connection between the journey of faith as a path into the unknown, a time where we have to trust that we are being lead by God, even though we don't know where we are going... however, this experience was different, and as such it is important to make a distinction.

When we walk with God in our lives, we trust on God to lead us. Through our prayer and contemplation we try to discern His voice in our life, and we become familiar with it, like sheep become familiar with the voice of their shepherd. We try to keep our hearts lifted up to God, and hand over everything in trust... However, I think in my journey I started ever so slightly to leave the path on which God was leading me, I was maybe racing ahead, looking at the future or worried about my studies, and seem to maybe have left Him behind (or at least so it felt looking back, where it is important to realize that it was me that left God, God not me!)

His gentile voice was calling, summoned we back, inviting me to follow him but I did not seem to hear it. With all the business of the studies, the pressure of wanting to do well on the essays, but also just the desire to make as much of the course as possible I started to run around in a way like a headless chicken, spiritually closing in on myself and not opening myself up to His voice.

This seems very subtle, but allow me to connect it to two lines just before the Gospel of this week:
"And then if any one says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!' or `Look, there he is!' do not believe it. False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect." (Mar 13:21-22 RSV)
There is a balance needed in our lives, and it is very easy to slowly be lead astray, even "the chosen" as our Lord tells us. It reminds me of a few years ago, and also my recent pondering on how to help people to discover the treasure of God in their lives. During the past few weeks I did not stop praying, I did not make a significant change in what I was doing. But there was a gradual change of heart in my an attitude towards God. My heart was not orientated in the right direction, not towards God, but slowly became more and more orientated towards myself.

This is significant, as it corresponds to what it is really about. Off course our relation of God is not about what we do, how many prayers we say, how many masses we attend. No, instead it is the change of heart which God is asking, a change of heart to open ourselves up to His love, to answer in as good a way as we can the love He has for us, and in this way allow Him to satisfy our soul in a way only He can do.

In order to be able to orientate ourselves to God in this way (and to be able to maintain it) it seems crucial to me to have an active relation with God, and to do spend time in silence and contemplation with Him, but this is in a way not the end. The end is a change of heart, and a constant dwelling in the presence of God in the 'cell of our heart' as St. Catherine is teaching us.

So the road I was walking on lead me away from the road of light into the darkness. But it was there in the darkness that again I found God. Maybe not exactly with "stars [...] falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens [...] shaken" (Mar 13:25 RSV) and with "the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory" (Mar 13:26 RSV) but maybe it was in the darkness of being self-centered that I realized how empty it was compared with the darkness being filled with the gentle and unnoticeable love of God. The loving voice touched my heart, there was a stir in the ground, and I returned to give this emptiness to God so he might fill it...

I find that we often find God in this emptiness (in a way), in the dark when we are not distracted by all the thinks around us but are allowed to focus on His voice alone. But it is in the darkness and emptiness where we find ourselves that we can easiest make space for Him to come in our life, to come back or to deepen our relation...

Well, so it seems to me at least, or at least, this is an effort of me to express how it seems to me, with some expressions maybe a bit strong, as everything with God is gentle, but it is the best I can do at this time...


ibreathandisigh said...

"the daily cycle of our world, and of our lives" ah man...jesus says "Learn a lesson from the fig tree.
When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,
you know that summer is near."
leads me to believe 'Jesus' second coming' is always happening! What do you say?

Bro. Luuk Dominiek Jansen OP said...

Not sure what yo say to that, my reflection was referencing the quote from Issiah, and didn't comment on the second part of the gospel.

But I guess I try to write upon self reflection, and for me it seems a cycle, an exitus et reditus. Like summer and winter, day and night, but that is just my personal experience. I am just don't that a steady disposition I guess.

Regarding "'Jesus' second coming' is always happening", I guess I would have to reflect on that first... as exactly the "you know that summer is near" would initially move me towards a promise of summer.

Palimpsest said...

Your account of your experience reminds me very much of Elijah's experience more than Mark gospel. As you say, you did not experience God necessarily the way Mark describes. I am always struck by Eliajh, who standing in "the great and strong wind tearing the mountains and breaking the rocks. . .but Yahweh was not in the wind" Even after the earthquake and fire (probably lightening) there is no Yahweh. But then Yahweh is found in the "thin, silent voice" . Sure not what he was expecting after the Mt Carmel fiasco (since the Yahweh of 1 Kings 17 was probably not what the Deuteronmist editors wanted to convey solely). Note Elijah too was in his own darkness (19: 4) before hearing God but God gave him (19:6) rest from his distress and simultaneously strength for the journey.

Bro. Luuk Dominiek Jansen OP said...

Thanks, I really appreciate the comment, and a good encouragement to look at Eliaja again! Thanks!


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