If you are following the daily liturgy gospel readings this week you will notice a bit of a potentially depressing theme. It’s the last week of the Church year before the new beginning of Advent on Sunday, so in these days the liturgy leads us to focus on the fact that all that surrounds us will one day no longer exist.
In these gospel passages Jesus is not trying to depress us. Instead he is reminding us that we have no need to fear anything.
When everything falls apart and I don’t know how I will get through the day ahead, even then, I have nothing to fear.
While there will be wars, earthquakes, famines and plagues (Tuesday’s gospel), and “they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons. and they will have you led before kings and governors” (Wednesday), if we remember that Christ is with us we should “not be terrified for such things must happen” (Tuesday) and “not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
In the midst of our own daily difficulties, it is not easy to keep our focus firmly fixed on the hope that is offered to us, but this hope enables us to see the day’s challenges and anxieties as the stuff of a rich and diverse adventure rather than the pre-empting the relaxation of the arrival.
For the child in the womb, the experience of birth with it’s trauma and unknown outcome must be terrifying. If the child had a choice s/he would no doubt do anything to avoid birth since everything about birth (from narrow in utero perspective) looks like more like death.
At the heart of our faith is the knowledge that death comes before resurrection.
It is hope that enables us to live the joy of a journey in the confidence that the destination we seek will come in God’s good time.
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
Jesus said to the crowd:
“They will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
Jesus told his disciples a parable.
“Consider the fig tree and all the other trees.
When their buds burst open,
you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near;
in the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that the Kingdom of God is near.
Amen, I say to 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.”