Year B Proper 28 Mark 13
The Bedrock of Faith
Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, in 1943 said, "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
Popular Mechanics magazine in 1949 made this prediction: "Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons."
There was an inventor by the name of Lee DeForest. He claimed that "While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility."
The Decca Recording Co. made a big mistake when they made this prediction: "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." That was their prediction in 1962 concerning a few lads form Liverpool. Their band was called the Beatles.
As the disciples walked out of the Temple in Jerusalem Jesus paused, looked back at the Temple and predicted, "Do you see all these great buildings. Not one stone will be left on another." To the disciples this was bedrock. Nothing could bring down these walls. "Look, teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!" they said to Jesus.
The smallest stones in the structure weighed 2 to 3 tons. Many of them weighed 50 tons. The largest existing stone, part of the Wailing Wall, is 12 meters in length and 3 meters high, and it weighs hundreds of tons! The stones were so immense that neither mortar nor any other binding material was used between the stones. Their stability was attained by the great weight of the stones. The walls towered over Jerusalem, over 400 feet in one area. Inside the four walls was 45 acres of bedrock mountain shaved flat and during Jesus' day a quarter of a million people could fit comfortably within the structure. No sports structure in America today comes close.
You can then understand the disciples’ surprise. As they walked down the Kidron Valley and up Mount Olive Peter, James, and John wanted to hear more. Jesus' prediction that a structure so immense would be leveled to the ground seemed implausible. But they pressed Jesus for more information. They wanted to know when. What would be the sign that this was about to take place? In their voice was fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear that their lives were about to change forever. Jesus had not made any predictions like this one. This was different. This, they could understand.
Forty years later Jesus' prediction came true. In 70 AD the Temple was destroyed by Rome. What are we to learn from this prediction and its fulfillment?
- The bedrock of faith is not in Temples.
- The bedrock of faith is not in Signs.
- The bedrock of faith is in Christ.
Satan’s Talking Points
Have you heard? Hollywood says we have three years left until the apocalypse.
Hollywood, always a reliable scientific and spiritual source, is basing its prediction on the ancient Mayan long-count calendar. This is a calendar which correctly predicted an astonishing number of other astrological and mathematical events. Unfortunately for the Mayans, even the best math couldn’t factor in and figure out some highly unexpected variables – like their own demise. This ancient and powerful Mayan culture didn’t foresee the arrival and ultimate invasion of a bunch of Spanish soldiers of fortune — soldiers bearing weapons the Mayans had never seen and bringing diseases their bodies had never encountered. The advanced Mayan technology that had carefully calculated “the end of the world” on 21 December 2012, was unable to perceive that “the end of THEIR world” was only a few decades away.
Regardless of the fact that the Mayans couldn’t foresee the end of their own civilization, the Mayan prediction of 2012 as the end of human civilization has captured the imagination of popular culture. The fact that the 5125 year Mayan calendar comes to an end on 21 December 2012 is giving bad dreams and bad thoughts to a whole new generation.
Of course, there are dates that speak volumes just by their numbers. Here are a couple of them:
428 AD (See An Ordinary Year at the End of the Roman Empire by Giusto Traina).
We process time and give it meaning by dates. But the date that you’re going to hearing more and more of us 2012, the alleged end-of-the-world date.
People who claim US citizenship have always been particularly entranced by end-of-the-world scenarios. Maybe it is because our own national history is so relatively short. Maybe it is because our roots are less deeply planted, making uprooting less intimidating. Think here of the Shakers, the Amana society, Millerites, all of whom lived all their lives preparing for the end.
Those that jumped on the apocalyptic bandwagon have often been those who have the least to lose in the event of a widespread materialistic meltdown. Recent immigrants, already uprooted, sometimes decide to send their hopes heavenward instead of sinking roots earthward. The poorest, the disenfranchised, those pushed to the edges and margins because of race, education, disabilities or just plain poverty, have always been rich soil for the germination of apocalyptic angst.
From the ancient Mayans to Nostradamus to Y2K and now 2012, there has never been any shortage of end-of-the-world scenarios. The predictions of a “nuclear winter” have been replaced by global warming, and there is still a debate over whether the devastating climate changes will bring drought of floods to vast regions of the earth — but the general agreement among all these scenarios is, “its gonna be bad.” The grimness of our environmental condition is relentlessly apocalyptic. Technological breakthroughs unaccompanied by spiritual breakthroughs can be apocalyptic. There is no such thing as a happy ending, apocalyptically speaking.
Apocalypticism is all about attitude – and it’s a bad attitude. That was Jesus’ message in today’s gospel text...