“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. And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory” (Mk 13:14-26).
ShareIn today’s gospel, Our Lord portends the signs that will accompany the end of the world. The heavens will be shaken to their foundation. The universe will literally come apart, constituting the dissolution of all things of time and the advent of eternity. The sun, moon and stars along with the firmament in which they are set will collapse and fall, and, thus, so shall we.This is the exact opposite of the way it is all began. The Holy Spirit says in Isaiah:My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together (48:13).
And in the Book of Daniel, which is the first reading in today’s Mass, the prophet likens the wise among men with the stability of the heavens:And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever (12:3).In the Collations on the Six Days of Creation (8, 1-2), St. Bonaventure comments on this verse from Daniel as representative of the firmness of faith. The context is the second day of creation when God stretches out the firmament of heaven and separates the waters below the firmament from those above (cf., Gen 1:6-8). The firmament of heaven is literally a barrier between the two waters, and in it is fixed the heavenly bodies: the sun, moon and stars. Bonaventure says that etymologically caelum, or heaven, is related to the act of engraving, so that we can say that the heavens are engraved with heavenly lights. They are fixed firmly in the heavens.All light comes from the heavens. Faith is a light that comes from heaven. Thus, faith, according to Bonaventure, is not only lofty and deep, but is also firm like the firmament of the heavens. It is something that cannot and will not pass away until the end of the world, when only charity will remain. Our Lord says in today’s gospel: Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away (Mk 13:31). (Read more.)