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Prophets infuse hope

Many interpret the dramatic expressions described in today’s gospel as information on what will happen at the end of the world.

The thought of the end of the world scares many. Jesus does not intend to provoke fear, but just the opposite. He wants to free us from fear, inspire joy and infuse hope.  

First of all, the elements mentioned here (sun, moon, stars, powers of the heavens and sea) are the same ones that appear in the story of creation.

The book of Genesis begins with the words: “The earth had no form and was void; darkness was over the deep” (Genesis 1:2).

No light, no life, everything was chaos and darkness until God intervened with his word. Then the sun and the moon appeared to mark the regular rhythms of days, nights and seasons.

Thus it went from chaos to cosmos and the earth became habitable for humans, animals and plants. In our passage an opposite movement is announced: the return to the primordial chaos.

It is said that the forces that keep order in the universe are upset; it regresses to the confusing, formless and dark situation that existed before the creation.

 The apocalyptic images used by Jesus speak of what is happening today.

It becomes nearly impossible to live in our world. People abuse and act injustly; hate reigns; there is violence, terror, war, inhumane conditions.

Nature herself is destroyed by the overexploitation of resources. The pace of the times and the seasons are no longer regular. Distressed people ask: what will happen? Where are we leading to?

Is the history of humanity thus headed toward an inevitable catastrophe? No—Jesus assures us (the central message of the passage)—but rather toward a new creation.

Where signs of the disorder caused by sin are seen, there the Son of Man with power and great glory should be expected. His power will bring forth a new world from chaos (v.27).

Jesus wants to warn us of the danger of fear and discouragement in the face of evil. He invites us to open our hearts to hope. Although the chaos that still exists is scary, the disciple does not break down. 

He or she does not bend like others bent by anguish, “stunned by fear.”

They get up and raise their head. It is enough to let the word of God work, as it happened at the beginning of creation.

 How many people we see walking bent, oppressed by sorrow and misadventures, numbed with fear? 

They do not have the strength to lift their head because they lost all hope: a wife abandoned by her husband, parents disappointed by the choices of the children, a professional ruined by envy of colleagues, men and women victims of hatred and violence, people who feel at the mercy of their instincts …

 Today’s gospel invites everyone “to lift up the head.” There’s no chaos from which God cannot obtain a new and wonderful world. This world is born the instant we allow God to fulfill his Advent in our lives.

How to stay awake, alert and ready to seize the moment and the place where the Lord is? It is easy to get confused, be deceived, waiting for him where he is not, precluding instead the road where he does not want to enter.

 There is only one way to stay vigilant: to pray (v.36). Prayer—Jesus says—will have two effects: it will give the strength to “escape all these things that are going to happen,” that is, it will make us see all the events with God’s eyes and ensure that we are not caught by fear.

Nothing will scare us because we will grasp at the happy, sad and even tragic of the Lord who comes. He comes to make us grow, mature, to get closer to him.

Father Fernando Armellini CMF     
Claretian Publications