The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
November 17, 2019 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 21:5-19
When our children were younger, the most common question I heard as we made our way home, or to the playground, or to their grandparents’ place was, “Are we there yet?” The ability to ask this question is issued almost as soon as a child is able to speak. Children can be impatient. And if we are honest, so can adults. Think of this as you hear the followers of Jesus asking him if “the End” is near. Today’s gospel, which comes near the end of the church’s year, is timely.
The “end” referred to comes from the belief in those days that soon would occur an end of time when God would be triumphant over all the evil in the world. This belief was a hot topic when Jesus lived. There were many theories of how this would come about. Some made their way into the pages of the Bible and some were simply popular theories created by people wanting attention. Even today there is belief in a soon-to-happen second coming of Jesus. Polls suggest that a sizable number of our contemporaries believe this awe-inspiring event will happen in their lifetimes. So too did a number of early Christians right after his resurrection. That was 2000 years ago.
Knowing that Jesus knew a lot more than anyone about the things of God, it’s no surprise that he was asked (probably more than once) when the end would come. He answered them by talking about some rough times ahead. Then, both nature and humans would seem to be out of control. There would be persecution of his followers. But he refused to give his questioners a date. Even an approximate one.
His advice was to remain attentive to what God might be doing in their midst, and basically, keep the faith. Don’t quit, no matter what happens. Being a Christian is not about being popular or prosperous. It is more about being prayerful and persistent. Let God take care of “the End.” Our job is to attend to the present and all its demands.
As we approach the end of this year, we might look back and see how we did with last January’s New Year resolutions. This is not to create guilt but to remind us that we are on a journey. Course corrections are often needed. Perhaps there were times when our faith and trust in God was tested. Maybe it had to do with children or grandchildren. Maybe with ourselves. In today’s gospel Jesus reminds us that there are always a few bumps along the way. Sometimes we need to take a detour. All of that is okay. Just keep your eye on the final goal. And God will not just meet us at the end, but God accompanies us all along the way. Focus your attention on now, the most important time in your life.
©David M. Thomas, PhD
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method of Review of Life.