Discern the Signs of Times

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The WORD in other words (2021) by Fr. Edwin Fernandez, SVD (DWC Laoag City) 

Friday 34th Week in Ordinary Time

Photo: National Monument, Jakarta, Indonesia

As I write this reflection, the whole world is suffering from a pandemic crisis.  The COVID-19 has brought us to a state of shock.  It has changed our lives, forcing quarantines and lockdowns, closing churches, causing deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, and sowing fear, anxiety and even despair in the hearts of many.  Amid so much uncertainty, we search for hope and meaning in all that we are going through.  Some say that our life will never go back again to what it used to be.  Some even dare to ask if this is a sign that we are close to the end times, and Jesus’ second coming is imminent. 

A few days ago, we celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King.  As the liturgical year ends, our readings focus on the last things, particularly on the end times and the coming of God’s Kingdom, which we always pray for in the Lord’s Prayer.  

In our Gospel reading today, Jesus mentions our exceptional ability to interpret signs from nature, for example, the changing of seasons and the anticipation of weather conditions.  Even when such an ability is important and helpful in our life, Jesus wants us also to develop the even more important ability to discern the signs of our times with a supernatural perspective or the perspective of faith.  It consists of learning to see the realities within and around us as God sees them.  

It is highly insufficient, for example, to see this current pandemic crisis as a merely political, economic, and scientific concern.  We need to dig deep and find the spiritual message that is being intensely conveyed to us amidst great suffering.  

We must ask questions.  What is the Lord telling us when He allows terrible things to happen to our world?  Is this not a wake-up call from Him for us to make a serious review of how we are living our life?  How is the state of our souls as of this moment?  Have we been putting God as the highest priority in our life?  Are we genuinely working for His Kingdom, or are we replacing His with our own?  Are our families and societies still firmly founded on God and His commands?  Are we moving towards Him as our ultimate goal and end?  

In the end, it is not what we selfishly plan and painstakingly build that will endure, but what God has intended and willed from the very beginning.  What matters most, in the end, is how we stand before Him, and not what we think of ourselves and what people think of us.  Knowing and doing the will of God courageously and faithfully should be our focus and passion in our short earthly existence.

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