The Gospel text for this Sunday [Mark 13:24-37], as with last Sunday, deals with the end times. And this Sunday is usually called the Last Sunday of the Church year. And this is also the last Sunday to hear from the Gospel according to Mark, at least for a little while.
When will the Last Day be? I should make this clear that no one knows except God the Father. Not even the Son knows. And when the sun darkens as predicted, I am imagining it being already too late to make a change. The end is coming, sometime, and when that is belongs to God. In other words, it is not important.
What we do know about God and the end IS important. And the things that have to do with that are wonderful things. The end is, in its proper context, a wonderful thing, just like getting to the end of a race. In this case, you do not know when the end will come, but when you get there, it will certainly be wonderful.
A lot of things happen in this world that are not good news. A lot of bad things happen within this world full of sin. That is normal. And just the simple fact that people in this world like to measure things can also add to the frustration; many things that are measurable are not good news.
A lot of bad things were happening to the early Christians in Rome. They were probably measuring their difficulties to the difficulties of the followers of Jesus when he was roaming around Israel. This gospel account, the Gospel according to Mark, helped to regain their perspective.
It was a short gospel account. The Christians undergoing persecution were in a difficult situation and did not have the time to sit through the minor details of Jesus’ life. This gospel account had a certain, comforting focus. They were given the life that Jesus lived for them; he was their sacrifice. Things are going to be good in the end—whenever that is.
Those persecuted Christians had the words of the Gospel account. They had Jesus' words to trust. And he was certainly trustworthy.
Even though this gospel account is short, the gospel message contained within it gives gifts that are immeasurable and endless. That certainly makes it good news.