Make up your mind now!


Scripture    Luke 21:5-19

Reading            

“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified;

for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.”

Then Jesus said to them… ‘Nation will rise against nation, and … there will be great earthquakes… dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to

synagogues and prisons… and all this because of my name.

“This will give you an opportunity to testify.

So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance;

for I will give you words and a wisdom

that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict."


Reflection

 

As we draw nearer to the end of the liturgical year, the Scripture readings turn to speak of ‘the end times’. In today’s Gospel we have a clear and simple directive from Jesus Himself about how we are to approach these impending disasters and the collapse of known and beloved political and ecclesial structures and institutions. Speaking without fear or apprehension, he calmly and simply states that all this worldly order will come to an end … and often through wars, political disorders, ecclesial persecutions, natural disasters and even family breakdowns. All this personal and global crisis and chaos must not cause us to be unduly anxious or troubled in spirit. It all must be. In the great mystery of it all, this is part of God’s plan for the world and God will be triumphant in the end. Trust me on this big one, he seems to be consoling us!

 

This is such a relevant Gospel for our reflection today. For so many individuals, their world comes crashing down suddenly in a kind of ‘end of the world’ crisis when they lose their job, their spouse, their reputation, their health. These can easily toss one into deep internal conflict and even despair. Or as Jesus points out – begin now to see your crisis as an opportunity to give witness to the power of your faith and trust in Me. Be still and watch how an inner truth sustains you and you will find yourself speaking words of wisdom and hope and encouragement to others even while enduring these difficult times. The Chilean miners are a recent example of heroic faith and fellowship in a time of extreme disaster. How many times have we been edified by cancer survivors and by children who champion on beyond their limitations!  What would constitute my ‘end of the world’ collapse moment? Remember 'not a hair of your head will perish.'  Stay calm and focused. I will be 'giving you words and a wisdom that none of your opponenets will be able to withstand or contradict.' 

 

When Jesus speaks about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem it must have sounded like ‘the end of the world’ to the Jewish people who revered their holy place. They could not imagine being without their beautiful temple and their rituals and familiar sacrifices. Everything must have seemed like disaster, failure and abandonment. But Jesus says, “Don’t be terrified. Don’t panic. There is something greater here to be aware of … I am the New Jerusalem, the Temple and the heart of the Holy City. You are invited to abide in this indwelling temple. As John said in his Gospel, speaking to the Samaritan woman:

 

“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know; for the hour will come – in fact it is here already - when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth: that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants. God is spirit and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth.”  - Jn 4:22-24

 

On outward appearances this is a dreadful state of affairs all that is happening throughout the Jewish world then and similarly in the news happenings of our world today. Jesus asks us to ‘make up our minds now’ as to how we are going to embrace with understanding these manifestations of ‘the end times‘ as they unfold in every generation. This is not catastrophic at all. The passing away of these exterior things will inevitably fade away but what is important, what is essential, is the call to ‘wake up’ now before these ‘end times’ strike into our everyday worlds of security and routine. Jesus teaches us how to prepare for the inevitable comings of these calamities, wars, insurrections, persecutions, trials, disasters. He says boldly...

- Make up your mind now that you will live in the present moment! 

- Make up your mind now that you will not allow fear of great wars or disasters to rob you of the beauty and joy and peace of this present moment. Do not orient your whole life around fear.

- Do not become discouraged or preoccupied with the future. God is in this present moment, and that is enough! God will be with us when our personal ‘end time’ comes, and that will be enough.

  I can surrender into this truth with renewed confidence in God... not in myself.   

- Make up your mind now. Clear your intention to not rehearse your responses to life. Then, you will be witnesses to My power when you open your mouth to speak ... 'my thoughts, my words will flow through your thoughts and your words  - trust ME ... they will be given in the moment needed. Have you not expericened this already?    

 

The coming of the kingdom of God is clearly a present reality in Jesus – the kingdom of God is within you – but its final consummation lies in the future when Christ returns in power, majesty and glory.  The ‘coming’ referred to here is the final coming – the parousia about which Jesus tells us there is no given, no exact time or place. His second coming will take place suddenly and unexpectedly. Am I living prepared for His comings?

 

The attitudes and qualities that distinguish a readied soul, a prepared guest of His coming, are first and foremost the “pure of heart”. A heart that is free from worldly attachments, a heart wherein earthly desires no longer divert one from being instantly ready for His Coming.  It is to a heart that has grown so attached to Christ that this attachment actually detaches it from belongings, possessions, even from one’s very life; to such persons, his comings are abundantly savoured. “There is no need to come down from the housetop, or in from the field to collect one’s possessions”… for in being possessed by God, the need for possessions fades away. To such are the qualities of heart that open one’s receptivity to His Comings. Jesus urges us to keep awake and aware and guard our hearts against those obstacles and hindrances that distract us and throw us off course. When our whole life passes before us – will we see then  - that no single thing is really all that important. Our preoccupation with material possessions, seeking bodily comforts, searching for consolations with friends and family, will fade into perspective. So too will our relationships become more centered in the Great Love. We will not allow ourselves to be perturbed over trifles, upset by needing to win or resolve every argument, and we will not let a single painful experience control the unhappiness of the rest of our lives. Make up your mind now to LIVE LIFE….to the full.

 

The inward comings of Christ establish us in a mutual relationship. For each 'coming' is a flowing-in of rich divine gifts, but the flowing-in demands a flowing-back out again.  God demands all His gifts back again from the one who receives them.  It is our loving striving and our giving back to God that holds Love steadfast. As in each of His inward comings, so will it be at His final coming – to each there is a cominginess, a goingoutness, an everthereness. "The kingdom of God is already within you.”  The coming-in and the going-out is all to the end of a meeting with Christ, a meeting of two persons in love.  A meeting that is ‘everthere’ and ‘not-yet’. Are you prepared for His coming?

  

Carrying Grace        The mighty One has done great things for me. Holy is God's name.

                                                                                                

 

Comments  

#2 Elizabeth-Angela 2010-11-22 18:28
The Sunday reading struck me deeply with the happenings in our world but even around me. I am finding change both a godsend even an adventure yet scary too. The words of Jesus, "So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom..." In a few months I will be venturing towards a move and new employment when people say, "What will you do doing? Working?" All remains a mystery and I am comforted and empowered with the following words, "Make up your mind now that you will live in the present moment! Make up your mind now that you will not allow fear ...to rob you of the beauty and joy and peace of this present moment." These words of wisdom gives me an impetus to simply dwell in the now moment where all of life becomes a gift -- to love life in the spirit of God's creation.
#1 arletteh 2010-11-15 11:35
What stands out for me : A crisis is an opportunity--Li ve in the challenge, the beauty, the joy , the peace of the present moment:Do not let fear rob you of that--Do not be preoccupied with the future--DO NOT REHEARSE YOUR RESPONSES TO LIFE: Be still: allow your inner truth to sustain you and respond when challenged--No single thing is really all that important: all will fade into perspective--Go d demands all gifts given us back)until we can say:"It is finished!"-I must live in the Great Love of God in order to live this way each day--Simplify my life--I will then recognize Christ when Christ comes--" MY SOUL MAGNIFIES MY BELOVED!"( Thank you so much again, rosemary for giving your gifts back to God via us!)

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