The passage from Wisdom, written about fifty years before Jesus came, goes on to indicate that the Messiah would be as a warrior, and it seemed to me that indeed He was, and is, a warrior in the sense that He came to fight the evils of oppression and injustice through the gift of His own life. Paradoxically, Jesus did this by teaching us mercy, compassion, and love. He taught us to find our strength in these things; we are not to simply accept everything that comes along with a sigh of despair. At the end of the liturgical year, as Ordinary Time is waning, it is appropriate to reflect on what the return of Jesus truly means for us as a people and as individuals. And it seems that there is no time like the present, given the state of affairs in our violent world, to reflect upon this very appropriate message.
In Sunday’s gospel we heard Jesus warn of tribulation to come. However, and this is a big ‘however,’ Jesus tells us not to prognosticate His coming by reading into what we think are signs of the end. “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32) Jesus emphasized this point: if we spend our lives looking at what we think are signs we will be spinning our wheels, so to speak, because only the Father knows the exact hour. While there are terrible things going on now, we cannot get caught in thinking that we know the day and hour of the end of the world as we know it. What we can and should do, however, is be prepared for Jesus’ Second Coming with hope, not with dread. The key is a healthy balance between seeing the reality of the world in which we live and keeping our faith, hope, and love attuned to the truth that God will make good on His promises, something He has always done. But we need to be ready.
What we learn from these end-of-the-liturgical-year readings is that we must remember that there will always be forces of evil, but that the world also contains goodness and good people. The world is broken and imperfect, awaiting the perfection of the fulfilled Kingdom of Heaven, but it is not devoid of beauty nor is it devoid of the presence of God. As we reflect upon that, maybe with extra poignancy this year, let us cling to the promise of God, knowing that ‘when peaceful stillness compasses everything and the night in its swift course is half spent, the all-powerful Word will come forth from His heavenly throne’ and finish the work He began two thousand years ago. We must cling to this promise. If not, to what can we cling? Who can save us other than God?* And who can be the instruments of bringing His love and mercy into the world if not us? So let us beg God to give us the strength to persevere and then trust that He will.
©Michele L. Catanese
* Nothing can separate us from the love of God. See Romans 8:28-39.
All the photos are mine. The first one is of the moon taken one night from my backyard.
The second photo was taken in Big Bend National Park, Texas.
Next is an icon of the risen Christ, who is pulling Adam and Eve out of Sheol, releasing the faithful dead into Heaven after the resurrection. The icon was a gift to me from a friend.
Next is another one of my photos from Big Bend National Park.
Finally are two works by Fr. William Hart McNichols.The first is Christ Emmanuel Flowering Cross. I chose this because I felt like the flowering was a symbol of life which the cross has brought us, which is everlasting life. The Kingdom began with Jesus and so the cross paradoxically brings life. And of course, Christ Emmanuel is 'Christ-with-us.' If you are looking to obtain a copy, or want cards or any other form of this image, it can be found at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/christ-emmanuel-flowering-cross-018-william-hart-mcnichols.html
The second is Viriditas Triptych, which is a panel, part of a larger work. You can find it at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/viriditas-triptych-william-hart-mcnichols.html.
The complete work, Viriditas-Finding God in All Things is found at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/viriditas-finding-god-in-all-things-william-hart-mcnichols.html