22 & 23 November 2005: Tuesday of the 34th Week of the Year
Luke 21, 5-19. Memorial of St. Cecilia
Last week, I felt a sudden surge of fear. I was worried about too many things. I was also afraid that things may not turn out fine. I was in fact afraid of failure, because at this time I cannot afford to fail. I emailed my best friend and told him all about my fears. He emailed back with one message: “Hang in there. Things will turn out fine.”
I guess this is the easiest way to understand the Gospel today. The readings focus on the end of the world; with terrible prophesies and warnings. In the first readings of today and tomorrow's liturgy, we hear the prophet Daniel interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar's dream and the writing on the wall predicting the end of the Babylonian empire. And Luke predicts the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. Jesus says, “There will be wars and insurrection, nation rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines and plagues from place to place, and persecutions before kings and governors on behalf of my name.” These warnings and predictions constitute elements in apocalyptic literature.
Apocalyptic literature is associated with persecutions. There are two groups: the persecutors and the persecuted --- ang mga nang-aapi at mga inaapi. The writings come from the inaapi, the persecuted. They write about future events, when actually, they are writing about present events. They write in codes and symbols which they only understand. Kasi ayaw nilang mabuking ng mga nang-aapi. Their message is usually “Do not be afraid”, “Do not lose hope”, “Be strong!”, “Trust God!”, “In the end, God will triumph over all these things!”
Therefore, if our readings are apocalyptic, the Gospel tells us to be strong, never to fear, never to lose hope, and never to lose trust in God. When there are wars and insurrections, when nations rise against nations, kingdoms against kingdoms, when earthquakes happen, when times become difficult, when one lacks money for basic needs, when government officials do not do their jobs well, when there is apathy, when heartbroken, when taking a challenging exam, when failing...hope in the Lord! All time is in God's hands.
The Gospel is indeed good news: it encourages us. The first reading says: “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed and shall put an end to all these.” And Jesus says, “But not a hair on your head will be destroyed, by your perseverance, you will secure your lives.”
Nevertheless, it does not mean that we should not act on our problems and just let things happen without lifting a finger to solve them. Action is needed.
To lead is to live dangerously. When leadership counts, when our being Christian is needed, when we lead people through difficult change, we challenge what people hold dear--- their daily habits, tools, loyalties, and ways of thinking --- with nothing more to offer perhaps than a possibility of a better way. Leadership though is worth the risk because the goals extend beyond material gain or personal advancement. By making the lives of people around us better, leadership provides meaning in life. It creates purpose.
We Christians are challenged to be leaders of change. Not to fear the wounds, but to trust God. To hang in there and believe things will turn out fine. Julian of Norwich says:“There is a great deed which the beloved Trinity shall do at the last day... and what that deed shall be and how it shall be done is unknown to all creatures below Christ. And it shall be hidden until it is done. This is the great deed ordained by our Lord since before time began, treasured and hidden in his blessed breast, known only to him... through whom God... shall make all things well. For just as the Blessed Trinity made all things out of nothing, so the same Blessed Trinity shall make good all that is not well.”