I was thinking about this weekend's Gospel passage for Mass from Luke 21:5-19.
While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, "All that you see here--
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down."
Then they asked him,
"Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?"
"See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
'I am he,’ and 'The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end."
Then he said to them,
"Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.
"Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives."
Here is where my mind went:
Just a cursory reading of history reveals that there has never been an age without trial and turmoil.
What century has not seen wars?
Each generation has experienced plagues: leprosy, bubonic plague, small pox, polio, aids.
And there has never been a time when a true Christian has not been ridiculed and rejected, whether by friends, family, or state.
One of these days, those who predict the end of the world will be correct. So far, they have been wrong about 2010 times.
So what does this Scripture mean for us? Well, it describes the situation at the time of Jesus, the time of Luke and all times until this current age. The signs are always there and fall into two categories. The first category of signs is the evidence of evil, it's many manifestations, and the suffering it causes. The second category includes the many signs of God's loving presence and the peace, deliverance, courage and salvation He brings.
These scary readings in the Bible, known as apocalyptic literature, are meant to be words of encouragement to a persecuted people. They contain hope as they proclaim the presence of God and His ultimate victory. That ultimate victory is ours if we remain faithful. They help us move from our suffering to finding the finger of God in our lives. We can read the signs of the times and ask, "What is God saying in each event of our lives."
Then they prescribe the antidote to the ills of the world. The antidote is One-- Jesus! No philosophy, no government, no quasi-spirituality, no guru, no false religion can cure those ills. Democracy, Republicans, Democrats, Capitalism, psychology, psychiatry, socialism, globalism, boycotts, unions, laws, communes, diets, hypnotism, paradigm shifts, treaties, lower taxes, higher taxes, protestantism, positive thinking, exercise programs, military might and technological advances have done little to change human nature and the "signs of the times".
Let us turn to Jesus each moment of our lives. Fly to Him in the Blessed Sacrament. Approach Him with confidence. Ask for His forgiveness and the grace to persevere. Hand in hand with His Mother, Mary, enter His most holy Presence in the Sacrifice of the Mass. Let Him heal your pain, your memories, your thoughts and your opinions. There is one antidote. The antidote is One -- Jesus. Become One with Him.