Gospel Meditation: The Coming of the Son of Man
This is the penultimate guided Ignatian prayer recording that I’ll offer on a weekly basis. After next week, we’ll include a link to other Ignatian guided prayer resources online. I plan to continue to record guided prayers occasionally throughout the year.
- Catherine Heinhold
I offer a guided Ignatian meditation on today's Gospel. This is an invitation to let the scripture enter into your heart and mind and speak personally to you. Ignatius said that meditation specifically engages our memory, thoughts, and will. We hear the word of God, and we ponder it, noticing any words, images, or ideas that speak to our hearts. And we speak to God about all of this.
If this way of praying is new – simply relax and try to become engaged in the text. Try not to worry about what you are “supposed to” be doing. If you find yourself distracted during your prayer, very gently bring yourself back to the scripture text.
If at any point during the guided meditation the scripture comes to life in such a way that God invites to you stay with a particular moment, follow the invitation that you sense, rather than move on to where the written meditation is going. In that case you might want to stop reading and continue on your own.
This is the time of year when the lectionary takes a turn towards the end of the world as we approach the end of the liturgical year and the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King. The 13th chapter of the gospel of Mark is an example of apocalyptic literature (other examples include the books of Daniel and the book of Revelation). These books were written during times of great persecution and suffering, and use allegorical language to convey a (not-too-distant) terrible end, culminating in the defeat of Satan and his supporters, followed by God’s triumphant and peaceful reign. This type of literature was intended to give hope and meaning to the Jewish people and early Christians in the midst of their suffering.
Quiet your body and mind
- Choose a position where you can be relaxed but alert.
- Breathe deeply several times and let your body relax
- Breathe out any worries or stressful thoughts and put them in God’s hands
- Become aware of God’s presence here with you now, looking at you with love.
Ask for a grace
- Ask God for whatever you desire most in this prayer time. If you are not sure what to ask for, you might ask for the grace to know Jesus more intimately, to love him more intensely, and to follow him more closely.
Read the scripture passage
Read the passage slowly twice, savoring the words. The first time, just listen to get a sense of it, to hear what is being said. The second time, notice any word or phrase, image, or idea that speaks to your heart or “shimmers” for you. Stay with that word, image, or idea and ponder its meaning. Notice how it makes you feel. Savor the experience.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘But in those days, after that suffering,
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.
Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
As you listened to this passage, is there a word or phrase that called your attention in some way? Or an idea or image that surfaced through the passage? Stay with that word, phrase, idea or image for the next few minutes of silence. Ponder its meaning, savor it, and notice what feelings come up.
This gospel was written in the context of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. Here Jesus speaks to his disciples, but also to the early Christians who faced persecution, instability, division, and an uncertain future. Today’s Christians face a different set of challenges. What do Jesus’ words mean for you as a 21st century Christian?
Jesus says, “Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory.” What feelings arise in you when you hear this?
Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” What does this mean to you?
Jesus says, ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.’ What does this mean for how you live your life now?
Bring everything you’ve meditated on to a conversation with Jesus. Share with him what is in your heart, as with a friend, and listen to his response. And when you are ready, close with a favorite prayer.
Review of Prayer
St. Ignatius recommends that we review our prayer. A written review has many advantages. It enables us to look back on our prayer experience, and to notice what happened. It allows us to be fully present to our experience of prayer. We do not write while we are praying. The review of prayer enables us not to judge ourselves or look for how well we are doing. It helps us to become more sensitive to how God is speaking to us in the here and now. It is also a precious record of our journey with God, which nourishes wholeness and integration.
Some questions to assist with your review:
What happened in your prayer?
What feelings did you experience?
During the prayer period, when did you feel encouraged?
When did you feel discouraged?
Did you receive the grace you asked for?
What did you receive?
Arrival of the Geese by Chad Crouch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 Unported License.