You can tell we are drawing to an end of this liturgical year. It happens each year at this time, just before the feast of Christ the King and the start of a new cycle of gospels at the beginning of Advent. "... No one knows the day nor the hour." Although it is not pleasant to reflect on all of these images, it's important for us to do so.
Once again we are asked to think about some pretty difficult things: “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken." The readings seem to be all about terrible loss, nightmare, and calamity, and may accurately reflect the mess the world is in today.
In today’s world, the message of the Gospel has never seemed more apropos. One wonders why the selected scriptures don't end the year in a neat and tidy package. That certainly would put closure on the liturgical year we have just traveled through and give us a sense of satisfaction.
The message of Christ is one that makes us uncomfortable. His words light a fire within us and He tells us that it is not enough that we just listen and keep these words to ourselves. The fullness of God's kingdom has come.
Being a disciple implies that one has to make hard choices. We will not always get what we want and very often we may find ourselves at odds with others who do not share our values. It's not easy to do what needs to be done, to say what needs to be said, to work things out when it bothers us to compromise. And then it's not easy to wait. It's not easy to be out of control, without power. It is not easy to forgive those who wrong us.
Jesus lived His life fully, celebrating each moment, each encounter, and each relationship with joy. He embraced human experience, drank deeply of human emotions, was nourished and comforted by human love. But He was always looking into the eyes of His Father. He was always conscious of the circle of His human existence, leading Him from God back to God.
Jesus never lost His sense of direction and purpose - and in that sense He was prepared for whatever came. His love of the Father was integrated into all that He said and did and became. There was no event, no person, and no circumstance that ever separated Him from His Father.
This is how we are called to live our lives. Through it all, we are to celebrate life with joy. We are to bear faithful witness to the Gospel by our lives of prayer, worship and unselfish love. We are pilgrims on this planet and not always perfect, but we are filled with hope by our faith in the Resurrection of Jesus. We continually look ahead, assured that the same Lord who called this community into being 2000 years ago and who has sustained it by His constant care and providence, will lead us now and into the future.
Rather than concentrating on the final days or the final coming in glory of the Son of Man, Christ is more interested in the way we are conducting our lives now… in the present. I prefer thinking that our Lord is more interested that the Second Coming should be happening right now and right here.
We need to look at our lives and how open we are to His presence within them. We need to be attentive to the signs of His presence around us. We need to focus on how His words affect our day-to-day lives and our relationships with one another.
So, let's look to the signs: not in terms of destruction and tragedy, but in the joyful hope of Christ's saving Love. This is the source of the triumph that Jesus' life, death and resurrection proclaim: God cares for each of us, and is with us always - especially at our most difficult times.
The signs are there - they are around us every day.