The 13th chapter of Mark’s gospel is known as “the little Apocalypse” as the imagery is more like that of the books of Daniel or Revelation than a narrative gospel. An apocalypse is an unveiling, a revealing, a vision that grants its recipient a glimpse beyond what is going on to what is really going on. Jesus is offering the disciples and us the assurance that crises are not the end but “the beginning of the birth pangs.”
As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.