Nov. 15, 2015 - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
There is enough darkness around us to overwhelm us, isn't there? On our drive to the airport the Cardinal was telling me about the plight of Christian refugees in the Middle East.
He was telling me because what is happening to them is exactly what happened to our ancestors so many years ago.
ISIS comes into a Christian village and gives three options. One, convert to Islam. Two, leave and you have two hours to be gone. Or three, we will execute you.
Imagine the tribulation that would cause if someone gave you those three options right now. The darkness is all around us.
The news media reminds us on a daily basis of shootings and violence and crime and some of that hits very close to home. It would indeed seem that the days of darkness and tribulation are upon us. Tension, unease, unrest, anger, hatred, violence, all around us.
There are even false prophets in our midst to lead us astray making us feel good with praise and worship and possibly even false piety, but not really challenging us to be good.
These false prophets tell us what we want to hear instead of telling us what we need to hear. It would indeed seem that the days of darkness and tribulation are upon us.
But they were upon the people in Jesus's time. And they were upon the people during the prophet Daniel's time. Darkness and sin and death are always with us because the Lord God in his great love for us has given us free will.
And with our free will, we can choose to live in the darkness. We can choose to be overwhelmed by dread. We can choose to be depressed, anxious, upset, angry, resentful, hateful, gossipy, nasty people.
Yes, we can choose all of those things. But those only lead us to sin and death and hell. The prophet Daniel says that this leads us to everlasting horror and disgrace.
But the prophet Daniel also says many who are in this unsurpassed time of distress will awaken to everlasting life. They will shine brightly like the stars in the heavens.
That's awesome. We want to be those chosen ones. We want to be the ones who see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And so, the Lord Jesus says to learn a lesson from the fig tree.
In essence he's telling us to pay attention. Pay attention to what the darkness brings. Pay attention to what sin brings. Pay attention to what evil brings. But don’t just wait around for the end to come. Choose to do good instead.
When we make these bad choices we bring the darkness upon ourselves. But Jesus says that by paying attention we can make other choices, better choices. We can draw nearer to Jesus and listen to his words because Jesus says heaven and earth may pass away but his words will not pass away.
So we gather here Sunday after Sunday in this holy consecrated place to listen to Jesus' words. To allow his words to sink into our hearts and into our souls. The Lord’s words spoken to us and the Lord’s presence in this place enable us to pay attention; here, yes, but also when we are out in the world.
We are called to be alert to God at work in our world.
Jesus’ words and Jesus’ presence with us call us to be a people of hope and grace and light rather than a people of despair and darkness. We are also called to pay attention so that we may become wise. And the prophet Daniel tells us that the wise will shine brightly and live forever.
We will hear the Lord’s words today and we will gather around the Lord’s table to be fed with spiritual food. But, are we paying attention? Will we respond to Jesus’ invitation to choose the good, to choose the light, to shine like the stars in the heavens even when there is darkness around us?