St Mark 13: 24-37

24 Sed in illis diebus, post tribulationem illam, sol contenebrabitur, et luna non dabit splendorem suum: 25 et stellæ cæli erunt decidentes, et virtutes, quæ in cælis sunt, movebuntur. 26 Et tunc videbunt Filium hominis venientem in nubibus cum virtute multa et gloria. 27 Et tunc mittet angelos suos, et congregabit electos suos a quatuor ventis, a summo terræ usque ad summum cæli. 28 A ficu autem discite parabolam. Cum jam ramus ejus tener fuerit, et nata fuerint folia, cognoscitis quia in proximo sit æstas: 29 sic et vos cum videritis hæc fieri, scitote quod in proximo sit, in ostiis. 30 Amen dico vobis, quoniam non transibit generatio hæc, donec omnia ista fiant. 31 Cælum et terra transibunt, verba autem mea non transibunt.32 De die autem illo vel hora nemo scit, neque angeli in cælo, neque Filius, nisi Pater. 33 Videte, vigilate, et orate: nescitis enim quando tempus sit. 34 Sicut homo qui peregre profectus reliquit domum suam, et dedit servis suis potestatem cujusque operis, et janitori præcepit ut vigilet, 35 vigilate ergo (nescitis enim quando dominus domus veniat: sero, an media nocte, an galli cantu, an mane), 36 ne, cum venerit repente, inveniat vos dormientes. 37 Quod autem vobis dico, omnibus dico: Vigilate.

[24] But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light. [25] And the stars of heaven shall be falling down, and the powers that are in heaven, shall be moved.[26] And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds, with great power and glory. [27] And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. [28] Now of the fig tree learn ye a parable. When the branch thereof is now tender, and the leaves are come forth, you know that summer is very near. [29] So you also when you shall see these things come to pass, know ye that it is very nigh, even at the doors. [30] Amen I say to you, that this generation shall not pass, until all these things be done.[31] Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away. [32] But of that day or hour no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father. [33] Take ye heed, watch and pray. For ye know not when the time is. [34] Even as a man who going into a far country, left his house; and gave authority to his servants over every work, and commanded the porter to watch. [35] Watch ye therefore, (for you know not when the lord of the house cometh: at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning,) [36] Lest coming on a sudden, he find you sleeping. [37] And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch.

Commentary (Catena Aurea)

AUG. For He did not only foretell to His disciples the good things which He would give to His saints and faithful ones, but also the woes in which this world was to abound, that we might look for our reward at the end of the world with more confidence, from feeling the woes in like manner announced as about to precede the end of the world.

THEOPHYL. But after the coming of Antichrist, the frame of the world shall be altered and changed, for the stars shall be obscured on account of the abundance of the brightness of Christ. Wherefore it goes on: But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light; and the stars of heaven shall fall.

BEDE; For the stars in the day of judgment shall appear obscure, not by any lessening of their own light, but because of the brightness of the true light, that is, of the most high Judge coming upon them; although there is nothing to prevent its being taken to mean, that the sun and moon with all the other heavenly bodies then for a time are really to lose their light, just as we are told was the case with the sun at the time of our Lord's Passion. But after the day of judgment, when there shall be a new sky and a new earth, then shall happen what Isaiah says: Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold. There follows, And the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

THEOPHYL. That is, the Angelic virtues shall be astonished, seeing that such great things are done, and that their fellow-servants are judged.

BEDE; What wonder is it that men should be troubled at this judgment, the sight of which makes the very Angelic powers to tremble? What will the stories of the house do when the pillars shake? What does the shrub of the wilderness undergo, when hen the cedar of paradise is moved?

PSEUDO-JEROME; Or else, the sun shall be darkened, at the coldness of their hearts, as in the winter time. And the moon shall not give her light with serenity, in this time of quarrel, and the stars of heaven shall fail in their light, when the seed of Abraham shall all but disappear, for to it they are likened. And the powers of heaven shall be stilled up to the wrath of vengeance, when they shall be sent by the Son of Man at His coming, of whose Advent it is said, And, then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory, He, that is, who first came down like rain into the fleece of Gideon in all lowliness.

AUG. For since it was said by the Angels to the Apostles, He shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven, rightly do we believe that He will come not only in the same body, but on a cloud, since He is to come as He went away, and a cloud received Him as He was going.

THEOPHYL But they shall see the Lord as the Son of Man, that is, in the body, for that which is seen is body.

AUG. For the vision of the Son of Man is shown even to the bad, but the vision of the form of God to the pure in heart alone, for they shall see God. And because the wicked cannot see the Son of God, as He is in the form of God, equal to the Father, and at the same time both just and wicked are to see Him as Judge of the quick and dead, before Whom they shall be judged, it was necessary that the Son of Man should receive power to judge.

Concerning the execution of which power, there is immediately added And then shall he send his angels.

THEOPHYL. Observe that Christ sends the Angels as well as the Father; where then are they who say that He is not equal to the Father? For the Angels go forth to gather together the faithful, who are chosen, that they may be carried into the air to meet Jesus Christ. Wherefore it goes on: And gather together his elect from the four winds.

PSEUDO-JEROME; As corn winnowed from the threshing-floor of the whole earth.

BEDE; By the four winds, He means the four parts of the world, the east the west, the north, and the south. And lest any one should think that the elect are to be gathered together only from the four edges of the world, and not from the midland regions as well as the borders, He has fitly added, From the uttermost part of earth, to the uttermost part of heaven, that is from the extremities of the earth to its utmost bounds, where the circle of the heavens appears to those who look from afar to rest upon the boundaries of the earth. No one therefore shall be elect in that day who remains behind and does not meet the Lord in the air, when He comes to judgment. The reprobate also shall come to judgment, that when it is finished they may be scattered abroad and perish from before the face of God.

BEDE; Under the example of a tree the Lord gave a pattern of the end, saying, Now learn a parable of the fig tree, when her branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you in like manner, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

THEOPHYL. As if He had said, As when the fig tree puts forth its leaves, summer follows at once, so also after the woes of Antichrist, at once, without an interval, shall be the coming of Christ, who will be to the just as summer after winter, but to sinners, winter after summer.

AUG. All that is said by the three Evangelists concerning the Advent of our Lord, if diligently compared together and examined, will perchance be found to belong to His daily coming in His body, that is, the Church, except those places where that last coming is so promised, as if it were approaching; for instance in the last part of the discourse according to Matthew, the coming itself is clearly expressed, where it is said, When the Son of Man shall come in his glory.

For what does he refer to in the words, when you shall see these things come to pass, but those things which He has mentioned above, amongst which it is said, And then you shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds. The end therefore shall not be then, but then it shall be near at hand. Or are we to say, that not all those things which are mentioned above are to be taken in, but only some of them, that is, leaving out these words, Then shall you see the Son of man coming; for that shall be the end itself, and not its approach only. But Matthew has declared that it is to be received without exception, saying, When you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. That which is said above must therefore be taken thus; And he shall send his angels, and gather together the elect from the four winds; that is, He shall collect His elect from the four winds of heaven, which He does in the whole of the last hour, coming in His members as in clouds.

BEDE; This fruit-bearing of the fig tree may also be understood to mean the state of the synagogue, which was condemned to everlasting barrenness, because when the Lord came, it had no fruits of righteousness in those who were then unfaithful. But the Apostle has said, that when the fullness of the Gentiles is come in, all Israel shall be saved. What means this, but that the tree, which has been long barren, shall then yield the fruit, which it had withheld? When this shall happen, doubt not that a summer of true peace is at hand.

PSEUDO-JEROME; Or else, the leaves which come forth are words now spoken, the summer at hand is the day of Judgment, in which every tree shall show what it had within it, deadness for burning, or greenness to be planted with the tree of life. There follows Verily I say to you, This generation shall not pass, till these things; be done.

BEDE; By generation He either means the whole race of mankind, or specially the Jews.

THEOPHYL. Or else, This generation shall not pass away, that is, the generation of Christians, until all things be fulfilled, which were spoken concerning Jerusalem and the coming of Antichrist; for He does not mean the generation of the Apostles, for the greater part of the Apostles did not live up to the destruction of Jerusalem.

But He says this of the generation of Christians, wishing to console His disciples, lest they should believe that the faith should fail at that time; for the immovable elements shall first fail, before the words of Christ fail; wherefore it is added, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

BEDE; The heaven which shall pass away is not the ethereal or starry heaven, but the heaven where is the air. For wherever the water of the judgment could reach, there also, according to the words of the blessed Peter, the fire of judgment shall reach. But the heaven and the earth shall pass away in that form which they now have, but in their essence they shall last without end.

THEOPHYL. The Lord wishing to prevent His disciples from asking about that day and hour, says, But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. For if He had said, I know, but I will not reveal it to you, He would have saddened them not a little; but He acted more wisely, and prevents their asking such a question, lest they should importune Him, by saying, neither the Angels nor I.

HILARY; This ignorance of the day and hour is urged against the Only-Begotten God, as if, God born of God had not the same perfection of nature as God. But first, let common sense decide whether it is credible that He, who is the cause that all things are, and are to be, should be ignorant of any out of all these things. For how can it be beyond the knowledge of that nature, by which and in which that which is to be done is contained? And can He be ignorant of that day, which is the day of His own Advent? Human substances foreknow as far as they can what they intend to do, and the knowledge of what is to be done, follows upon the will to act. How then can the Lord of glory, from ignorance of the day of His coming, be believed to be of that imperfect nature, which has on it a necessity of coming, and has not attained to the knowledge of its own advent?

But again, how much more room for blasphemy will there be, if a feeling of envy is ascribed to God the Father, in that He has withheld the knowledge of His beatitude from Him to whom He gave a foreknowledge of His death. But if there are in Him all the treasures of knowledge, He is not ignorant of this day; rather we ought to remember that the treasures of wisdom in Him are hidden; His ignorance therefore must be connected with the hiding of the treasures of wisdom, which are in Him. For in all cases, in which God declares Himself ignorant, He is not under the power of ignorance, but either it is not a fit time for speaking, or it is an economy of not acting.

But if God is said then to have known that Abraham loved Him, when He did not hide that His knowledge from Abraham, it follows, that the Father is said to know the day, because He did not hide it from the Son. If therefore the Son knew not the day, it is a Sacrament of His being silent, as on the contrary the Father alone is said to know, because He is not silent. But God forbid that any new and bodily changes should be ascribed to the Father or the Son. Lastly, lest He should be said to be ignorant from weakness, He has immediately added, Take you heed, watch and pray, for you know not when the time is.

PSEUDO-JEROME; For we must needs watch with our souls before the death of the body.

THEOPHYL. But He teaches us two things, watching and prayer; for many of us watch, but watch only to pass the night in wickedness; He now follows this up with a parable, saying, For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave his servants power over every work, and commanded the porter to watch.

BEDE; The man who taking a far journey left his houses is Christ, who ascending as a conqueror to His Father after the resurrection, left His Church, as to His bodily presence, but has never deprived her of the safeguard of His Divine presence.

GREG. For the earth is properly the place for the flesh, which was as it were carried away to a far country, when it was placed by our Redeemer in the heavens. And he gave his servants power over every work, when, by giving to His faithful ones the grace of the Holy Ghost, He gave them the power of serving every good work. He has also ordered the porter to watch, because He commanded the order of pastors to have a care over the Church committed to them. Not only, however, those of us w ho rule over Churches, but all are required to watch the doors of their hearts, lest the evil suggestions of the devil enter into them, and lest our Lord find us sleeping.

Wherefore concluding this parable He adds, Watch you therefore: for you know not when the master of the house comes, at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning:

lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

PSEUDO-JEROME; For he who sleeps applies not his mind to real bodies, but to phantoms, and when he awakes, he possesses not what he had seen; so also are those, whom the love of this world seizes upon in this life; they quit after this life what they dreamed was real.

THEOPHYL. See again that He has not said, I know not when the time will be, but, you know not. For the reason why He concealed it was that it was better for us; for if, now that we know not the end, we are careless, what should we do if we knew it? We should keep on our wickednesses even to the end. Let us therefore attend to His words; for the end comes at even, when a man dies in old age; at midnight, when he dies in the midst of his youth; and at cockcrow, when our reason is perfect within us; for when a child begins to live according to his reason, then the cock cries loud within him, rousing him from the sleep of sense; but the age of childhood is the morning. Now all these ages must look out for the end; for even a child must be watched, lest he die unbaptized.

PSEUDO-JEROME; He thus concludes His discourse, that the last should hear from those who come first this precept which is common to all; wherefore He adds, But what I say to you I say to all, Watch.

AUG. For He not only speaks to those in whose hearing He then spoke, but even to all who came after them, before our time, and even to us, and to all after us, even to His last coming. But shall that day find all living, or will any man say that He speaks also to the dead, when He says, Watch, lest when he comes he find you, sleeping? Why then does He say to all, what only belongs to those who shall then be alive, if it be not that it belongs to all, as I have said? For that day comes to each man when his day comes for departing from this life such as he is to be, when judged in that day, and for this reason every Christian ought to watch, lest the Advent of the Lord find him unprepared; but that day shall find him unprepared, whom the last day of his life shall find unprepared.

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