The WORD in other words (2021) by Sr. Rosalia Gatbunton, SSpS — Manila
Thursday 34th Week in Ordinary Time
Photo: ChapelBells of Centre Theresianum de Kinshasa, Congo
Both the first reading from the Book of Revelation and the Gospel according to St Luke narrate the same fate of sinful Babylon and blind Jerusalem who did not recognize and has rejected Jesus, God’s Son sent to redeem the world.
In the Gospel, Jesus foretold the end-time when the Son of Man is coming for the judgment of the world. When the disciples asked for signs of the end-time, he began speaking of Jerusalem falling on the hand of its enemies, leaving the city and its magnificent temple in total ruins while its Jewish inhabitants shall be exterminated and others held captives. He predicted disturbances in nature and the cosmic universe that will devastate the earth and shake the normal flow and order of the natural world.
If we follow the events in history, we can perceive that Jesus is speaking of an undetermined, extended time, a continuum that stretches up to the present and perhaps even to the future, for nobody knows except God, when the end-time will take place.
Knowing the realities in our world of today, we can say that the signs that Jesus speaks of have happened and are still happening. We are living in the midst of chaos, in a world afflicted by armed and biological wars, terrorism, economic imperialism, deaths, diseases, natural calamities that have claimed thousands of lives and properties everywhere.
Such a picture of world disorder brings terror, distress, fear, anguish, anger, even doubts, and confusion to the hearts of Jesus’ listeners.
Going deeper into the message of the Gospel, we can sense that Jesus wants his listeners to see beyond these events. He is leading his followers and every person of today to an individual and societal introspection to recognize the truth that everything is passing, that nothing is permanent, and nothing lasts forever. Power, glory, wealth, possessions cannot give true security, happiness, and peace, nor can they buy eternal life. True security lies in God’s hand; life’s only anchor is God alone.
Jesus tells us not to fear, a message he repeated many times in his many sermons and teachings, for God shall be our strength. When he says, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21, 28) we are invited to wait and prepare to welcome our redemption, but not in a passive mode. This waiting must be active. He wants us to stand up and let our light shine to help dispel darkness wherever it exists, to witness to the reign of love and compassion to those in need, to be signs of hope and firm faith in times of anguish and hopelessness.
So when our personal end-time comes, when the hour of death is near, we can say with fearless and unwavering trust: “My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready. “ (Psalm 57, 7)