Saturday, 1 December 2012

End of Days

GospelLuke 21:25-28,34-36 

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.
  ‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’

Faith is filled with paradox- experiences that talk to many in many different ways - that seem to lead one way only to bring us around to another. Advent begins as the Liturgical year ends - Luke's apocalyptic vision graphically mirrors not the 'End of Days' but the world that surrounds us now. Prophecy is not about the future but the present and the present hasn't changed very much at all. Since the Resurrection has there ever been a time when the world has not been menaced and people haven't felt bewildered?

Menace has also accompanied humanity along life's journey. This year we have been fascinated with the Mayan prophecy that the 21st December 2012 will see the end of civilisation; the media fills the news channels with disasters both natural and man-made. Yet the Christmas lights went on in the retail centres in early November and the same media channels are dispersed with the paradoxical advertisments of all the things that we 'need' to make us happy and the pleas to give a thought, and a donation, to those who have nothing. Bewildering indeed.

Jesus warns us that it is so easy to give in to the bewilderment; to allow ourselves to be distracted by the immediacy of worldly pleasures or the depression of apathy. There are those who look forward to the Second Coming with great anticipation or maybe the sense of 'let's get it over with'. Either way it takes our focus from the watchfulness of our vocation. We are told not to fear; to be witnesses to the freedom that has been won by Jesus' gift, already made, for all of us. We are told to live; to live with the awareness that we may encounter Jesus in any moment and to be ready to respond in love.

Mark spent all last year warning us that discipleship is hard and that there is no easy option. Luke's Gospel rallies us; assuring us that we can make a difference and to have confidence that we already belong. The early disciples were expecting Jesus to return in their lifetime; we have time to recognise what the presence of Jesus feels like; the movement inside like the turning of a child; the heaviness of a love that is lifelong.

Advent may resemble Lent in it's watchfulness; unlike Lent, there is expectation and longing. A longing for the bewilderment to end; for the message to be heard; for the chance to begin again. An expectation that, like pregnancy, will be fulfilled in its  own time.  


1 comment:

Lynda said...

What a great way to begin this reflection: "Faith is filled with paradox". How true and when we realize that, so much makes sense and we can be at peace. Prayers for a blessed and meaningful Advent season as we watch and wait for our Lord.