Commentary on the Gospel of
Yesterday in the United States of America, we celebrated Thanksgiving Day. The Readings for that liturgy replaced the Readings for that Thursday in Ordinary Time. They are horrific! Luke 21, verses 21 to 28 are frightening, full of promises of destruction, fear and death. Jerusalem, the very place of the presence of God, will be taken over by foreign armies and the inhabitants are to flee. We are glad these Readings were replaced for yesterday.
Thomas Edison once wrote, “When you have exhausted all possibilities, you haven’t.” Tomorrow is the last liturgical-day of the year. Sunday we begin Advent with all its prayers and Readings of promise and hope. When we think that God has exhausted all possibilities, well, at times we cannot imagine anything new or different. God’s possibilities are never exhausted.
Today’s Gospel follows the terrible predictions of the verses sited above. Jesus points out a fig tree and comments that when buds appear, summer is near. In our section of the country, leaves have fallen and the limbs are fruitless, naked, empty. This is an image Jesus has of Jerusalem and its religious practices. Jesus predicts that the Kingdom of God is near when the kingdom of death has collapsed. There are new possibilities which will become realities as will the autumn trees and bushes come to life again. The things of creation will go and come, but God’s fidelity remains.
This present pandemic is oppressive of spirit and life, but there still lives the “dearest freshness, deep-down thing.” Some have taken the occurrence of the virus as a punishment and others as an invitation to trust God’s possibilities for life. I would propose that endurance is one of many human possibilities as is grumbling, as well as depression and withdrawal from God. I myself have sipped from such tempting cups. Jesus is always offering the possibility of hope that invites us not just to survive, but to triumph over darkness and self-despair. The most amazing, surprising and life-giving possibility, more than any vaccine, is coming again. We need merely to allow our souls to be Christianated these prayerful days of Advent. Watch for the signs and personal invitations to receive the Shots.