Today’s readings remind us of the scary times in which we live. I’m not just talking about today’s scripture readings, but also the readings from today’s newspapers. Palestinian rockets are bombarding Tel Aviv and Jerusalem while Israel is readying for a ground attack into Gaza. And of course Iran is always an undercurrent in the media. Here’s a reading from the book of an Iranian religious scholar, Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini:
“Those who persist in their disbelief and wickedness shall be killed by the soldiers of the Mahdi. The only victorious government in the entire world will be that of Islam, and people will devotedly endeavor to protect it. Islam will be the religion of everyone, and will enter all the nations of the world. . . .The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and the Christians; if they accept it they will be spared, otherwise they will be killed. . . . It seems unlikely that this catastrophe can be avoided. . . . Warfare and bloodshed [are] inevitable.”
Radicals everywhere seem determined to make the end of the world a self fulfilling prophesy by delivering it themselves. But as Mark quotes Jesus in today’s gospel, “Sky and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. … But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.”
What we Christians do know is that because of one death, we’ve earned the right to be saved. That doesn’t mean all will be, but as today’s second reading from Hebrews states, “By virtue of that one single offering, he has achieved the eternal perfection of all who are sanctified. When these have been forgiven, there can be no more sin offerings.”
So no matter what men do in God’s name to justify their evil deeds, they can’t undo what Christ did.
We may not have the power to stop the senseless killing in today’s world, but we do have the wisdom of Christ’s undying words. Those are the readings that will free us from the fear of death as delivered by followers of false prophets.