Tuesday: 27 November, 2012 –– 34th Week in Ordinary Time
Revelation 14:14–19 / Luke 21:5–11
We so easily focus on the immediate and the sensational. Manufacturers, advertisers and entertainers recognize this and take advantage –– to their profit and mostly to the public loss. We can even get drawn into religious sensationalism. Jesus noticed people giving their attention to the decorations of the temple. His response is an exhortation not to be distracted by things that end up being inconsequential.
Jesus warns of false teaching (do we truly appreciate the teaching office of the Church?!), especially in a time when the idea of absolute truth is ridiculed. Jesus is matter-of-fact about some of the biggest threats that get our attention: wars, earthquakes, plagues.... and these are big things for life in this world –– but as Christians, our ultimate focus is not life in this world.
John’s Revelation is full of images which can be hard for us to comprehend, but the overall message is clear: this world as we know it is not all there is, and we are all progressing toward an existence that goes beyond this life.
Christian Faith not only accepts this as “true” but embraces this reality as an attitude of mind and heart. As Christians, our calling is not to focus on present circumstances as if they are of ultimate importance. They are of secondary importance. The way we respond to present circumstances is forming an eternal character in each of us. Christian Faith, then, looks beyond the present. We look to the past to see what God has done in Jesus Christ by entering our world and overcoming death. We look to the future to see what God is going to do: to make all things new for those who follow Jesus in his resurrection to eternal life.
So here is what we do: by faith (through the grace of our Lord and the strength of his Spirit) we focus on what is promised to those who love and obey God, and allow that perspective to affect the way we understand –– and respond –– to the present circumstances.
We cannot control the things swirling around us, but we can respond as people who believe that this world does not have the last word –– as people who truly believe that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord, our eternal King forever and ever.