May the peace of Christ preserve you from all fear!
In this weekend’s readings we hear about things that will happen before Christ returns in glory. In the first reading the prophet warns that those who do evil will be like dry stubble and consumed by fire, while the just will have reason to rejoice in their deliverance. St. Paul encourages the community at Thessalonica to focus on implementing Gospel values in their personal daily lives as a means to avoid becoming vexed about what others are doing. In the Gospel, Jesus gives the disciples a glimpse of the future and what to expect: wars, insurrections, earthquakes, famines, disease and signs in the sky. Jesus also tells them not to worry for he will be present to help and save those who persevere.
In just a brief perusal of the news headlines, one can easily identify all the elements enumerated by Jesus. There have been over 10, 436 earthquakes in the world so far in 2019, 48 occurred in one day: October 17. The people of the areas where the largest earthquakes occurred are experiencing the ravages of the aftermath: struggles for clean water, medical supplies, rebuilding sewer, water, gas and electric supply lines and restoring stable communications. Meanwhile war-torn areas in the Middle East are still trying to rise from the rubble of war and civil revolt. ISIS, though subdued by US and international efforts, is expected to rise again through the current Turkish invasion of Northern Syria. ISIS’ previous murderous rampage displaced millions and killed thousands resulting in over 40 million refugees in the world. To us who live in the Western World, it doesn’t seem that there will ever be a just and stable government in those areas. There are a host of other violent hot spots around the globe, not to mention the continuing concern over nuclear developments in North Korea and Iran. Here in the United States, it looks like we are anything but united. The predominant news we get is filled with personal attacks and vicious battling over party-line agendas. Too much drama.
There are those who would like to have us all believe that these are definite signs that Jesus is about to return but no one knows the day or the hour. It would be easy to get caught up in that kind of fear if you didn’t have faith and a prayer life. Fear can distort our outlook on the world, it can become like a prison that disables us from the freedom to act with love. Fear can prevent us from focusing on what’s really important: a daily life filled with light, love and meaning. As Christian believers, our focus and efforts are always the same: we strive to bring the Good News into the world. Google “Medical Miracles” and be amazed at all the entries of miracles going on around us. The blind see, the deaf hear, the dead rise to new life, the lame walk. God is always present and working in our midst! We just have to look! If we focus on Jesus and trust him, we can avoid sinking into fear filled living. In living each day in faith, we can be confident that we will be ready whenever he comes, because he is already here!
May God bless you with peace and good health! +++ Fr Peter