Commentary on the Gospel of
We do not like being measured. I recently had to do a health screening that entails various measurements. Even though my health is good, I find it stressful to have others measuring me. We live with the fear that somehow, we will not measure up and we will discover an uncomfortable truth. We may not be as well as we think. But at least I understand that these measurements are designed with a benevolent purpose. It would be a different story if I was being measured for a coffin!
In the first reading, the man seen measuring the city may have caused a similar stress reaction. Why are you measuring the city? What harm could that information cause in the hands of an enemy with a malevolent purpose? Some of us tend to look with suspicion on things we don’t understand. As one clever wag put it, the pessimist thinks things cannot get any worse, while the optimist believes that it certainly can! When we are in a state of fear, we welcome reassurance that someone can rescue us. How welcome was this message from the Angel! If God would be dwelling among them, the measuring man could not portend any harm. God’s protection would be better than any wall. But could the people see and sense that it was there?
In today’s gospel, Jesus is cautioning his disciples to be wary of judging by the conditions you may see, which at the time seemed pretty favorable! Instead, he chose to share an uncomfortable truth. Jesus knows he is headed for the cross, that he will be betrayed, and that suffering and death lie ahead. He can see all these things in spite of his current milieu, because he knows the will of the Father that will come to pass. There may be angst in accepting such an uncomfortable truth, but it sure beats the disappointment of holding on to a comfortable lie. Nevertheless, it can be tough to endure until the whole truth is revealed.
In the midst of his counsel, Jesus seems to be reassuring his disciples not to fear, but to trust him. This is the message the Angel was sharing, too. Look not at the enemy that may be measuring you, but at the Lord who lives among you and guards you with a holy fire. This is not easy to put into action, but it is a call for us to heed.
Strengthen us to look to you and to trust you, Good Shepherd. Help our faith to endure until the time of joy and consolation appears.
Thanks be to God.