Tuesday of the 34th Week of the Year

Luke 21:5-11

The Signs of the End

As an example of deception, Today in the Word, (July 1995, p.27) told this story that F. E. Smith was a capable lawyer with a quick wit who served as the British attorney general from 1915 until 1919. On one occasion he cross-examined a young man claiming damages for an arm injury caused by the negligence of a bus driver. “Will you please show us how high you can lift your arm now?” asked Smith. The young man gingerly raised his arm to shoulder level, his face distorted with pain.

“Thank you,” said Smith. “And now, could you show us how high you could lift it before the accident?” The young man eagerly shot his arm up above his head. And so at the end the young man lost the case.

The church liturgical calendar will come to an end. Soon a new church year will begin and that will be, Advent. At the end of the church annual calendar many bible readings pertain to the end of time and today’s gospel passage is one of them. Jesus describes the signs of the end of time and gives two very important points. He said: “Do not be deceived” when somebody said that he is the messiah or the time has come and “do not be terrified” when wars, insurrections and others happen.

First, “do not be deceived.” Jesus tells His followers not to be too ready to believe what they hear from what the people are saying. It is because these do not necessarily spell the end. The message now being given to us is that the end does not follow immediately. It is because nobody, no president, no legislation, no books and writings, no government is adequate to the Gospel or can replace it and its message of compassion, justice and love. No government can adequately embody our Gospel of life and so don’t think it will.

Second, “do not be terrified.” Let us not panic when we hear how terrible the world is or how awful this group or that group is. Let us not be too alarmed when we hear of wars and social upheavals. Yes there will be too many natural disasters, widespread diseases and celestial phenomena. And let us not contribute to the chaos and troubles with our own words and actions; let us breathe slowly and deeply and know the power of God.

Jesus is saying these two things to us because God is love. God is only love. He is nothing, but love. Love is all that God ever offers to us whatever we do. God is love, this means that whatever we have done, He has dissolved it already in His love even before we do it, because God knew in advance what we are going to do. In this sense, God loves us so much.

The Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, tells a parable of a theater where a variety show is proceeding. Each show is more fantastic than the last, and is applauded by the audience. Suddenly the manager comes forward. He apologizes for the interruption, but the theater is on fire, and he begs his patrons to leave in an orderly fashion. The audience thinks this is the most amusing turn of the evening and cheer thunderously. The manager again implores them to leave the burning building and he is again applauded vigorously. At last he can do no more. The fire raced through the whole building and the fun-loving audience was with it.

Kierkegaard concluded: “And so, will our age, I sometimes think, go down in fiery destruction to the applause of a crowded house of cheering spectators.”

See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

OPTION  01,   02,   03,

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