Readings: Daniel 12:1-3, Psalm 15:5,8-11, Hebrews 10:11-14,18, Mark 13:24-32
Do not fear, focus on the life after
As we draw close to the end of the liturgical year, the readings direct us to contemplate a reality which often brings fear to our lives and even challenges our faith. Talking about the end of times or the final judgement and the second coming of the Lord, puts us into a certain kind of anxiety simply because we are not sure of when this will happen and we have no idea of ow it will happen. Many false prophets have come out to preach about these and some have made it even the central theme in their messages.
But all this does is to increase fear among the faithful and put them in a situation of vulnerability. But how can we make sense of such scripture as this? The purpose of such words is not to incite fear, but to evoke in us a reflection on how we live our lives. It provokes us not to think about life as only here and now moment. These words teach us to hang on in faith, and not be threatened by these signs.
The readings invite as to have a different view of life. At times we live as if life ends here, instead we must stretch our vision with hope for eternity. In the time of Noah, (Luke17: 27), they failed to focus on the future and did not see importance in the signs, they ignored them. They ate, drank, sold merchandise, married. In other words, they were concerned only about their wellbeing then, and never sought of a preparation for life after. At times we are also like them. We care only about our well-being here and now, we eat we drink, we give maximum care to our bodies but not our souls. But life for us believers is not and should not be just about today. We have hope for tomorrow, even after death. There is something more that awaits us, there is life after death which we must be prepared for. Actually, our life now should be a preparation for life after. So, the readings today are not meant to create fear, but to encourage us, to make us pose now and reflect on our life such that we turn away from those actions and attitudes that are dreadful for our salvation and embrace those that are applaudable in God’s kingdom. Christ came that we might have life, and have it in abundance. For a Christian death is a gateway to eternal life.
Letting the signs change our attitude
Holy scripture assures as that death will happen, that the end will definitely come but no one knows when, not even the son. The signs given for this are also not very usual to our perceptions. The sun being darkened, the moon not anymore giving its light, the stars falling from above and the powers of heaven being shaken. These are all disastrous signs. Darkness and the falling of the stars cause panic. Perhaps the only consoling sign would be that of seeing the son of man coming in the clouds with glory. None of us will escape this moment. We may be unsure of when it will happen but that uncertainty should in away, orient our lives towards a preparation for that moment. We must learn to embrace those attitudes that will make the moment of judgement not a tough one for us. Our judgment will be based on the simple law of love. How much we have loved how much we have shown care and concern towards others. This uncertainty must lead us to grow in faith and trust in the Lord.
Jesus refers us to the example of the fig tree which when its twigs grow and leaves come out, we know that summer is near. So, we must be able to read the signs of time and act accordingly. This is the first way to prepare. We can do this by following the way of wisdom highlighted in the first reading, to understand the signs from above. Because, those who are wise will shine brightly as the expanse of the heavens. Wisdom biblically means preparation. In the gospel narrative of the ten virgins, five were considered wise because they prepared for the coming of the bridegroom, they carried extra oil and remained awake all night awaiting him. So, we need to be prepared by following the way of wisdom, such that that moment may not take us by surprise.
As Christians our eyes must not be turned on only life here and now. Our eyes must be focused on what lies ahead, concerned for the life eternal because this is what we are meant for. We should challenge our actions to see to it that they enable us to be counted among members of Gods kingdom. Our aim must be attaining eternal life. It is a grace which is much accessible if we live within the values of the gospel.
Fr Nicholas Onyait, mccj