Monday, November 21, 2016

MIGHTY SIGNS FROM THE SKY


Homily for November 22nd, 2016: Luke 21:5-11.

          Our gospel reading today is about what is called about the “End Time.” This Temple which you are looking at, Jesus tells his hearers, will not always be here. It will all be torn down one day. Shocked, the hearers want to know when this will happen. What sign will there be that the end is coming?

People have been asking that question ever since. Jesus never answered it. There is a passage in Matthew’s gospel where Jesus says that even he has no timetable. “As for the exact day or hour, no one knows it, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but the Father only” (Mt. 24:36).  

          One piece of information Jesus does give. The end of all things, and Jesus’ return in glory, will be preceded by disturbing signs. Jesus mentions some of them in today’s gospel: “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.” Jesus is using poetic, dramatic language to describe a world in ferment, and coming apart at the scenes. Who can doubt that we are living in just such a world today?

          Should these signs make us fearful and anxious? Not if we are living for the Lord God, and for others. Let me tell you about a man who did that. His name was Basil Hume, a Benedictine monk of Ampleforth Abbey in the north of England. The three English monks who founded St. Louis Abbey and the Priory School on Mason Road came from Ampleforth over 50 years ago. Basil Hume was their Abbot when Pope Paul VI reached over the heads of all the English bishops to make him Archbishop of Westminster and later a cardinal. In June 1999, when he knew he was dying of cancer, Cardinal Basil wrote words which beautifully express his lack of fear, based upon his faith in God:

                   “We each have a story, or part of one at any rate, about which we have never been able to speak to anyone. Fear of being misunderstood. Inability to understand. Ignorance of the darker side of our hidden lives, or even shame, make it very difficult for many people. Our true story is not told, or, only half of it is. What a relief it will be to whisper freely and fully into the merciful and compassionate ear of God. That is what God has always wanted. He waits for us to come home. He receives us, his prodigal children, with a loving embrace. In that embrace we start to tell him our story. I now have no fear of death. I look forward to this friend leading me to a world where I shall know God and be known by Him as His beloved son.”