Then, after that suffering the sun will turn black,
the moon will go out,
the stars will fall out of the sky,
and the planets will veer off-course.
Then in skywriting they’ll see the power and awesomeness of humanity’s essence, sending out messengers around the globe and to the ends of the universe to gather those who’ve been chosen.
Learn the lesson of the fig tree. When it’s branches soften and leaves bud you know that summer is coming. Likewise, when you see these things happening you know the goal is as close as walking through that door. Before this generation dies out, I tell you, all this will have happened. Heaven and earth will die out, but what I’m saying will always be.
But nobody knows the exact moment. Not heaven’s messengers. Not heaven’s child. God only knows, so watch and stay on guard. You never know. It’s as if someone leaves his house in charge of caretakers, leaving specific instructions for each of them, and put a security guard on duty. Stay on guard, because you never know when he might come back. Could be evening, midnight, or just before dawn. Just be ready so whenever it is you won’t be caught napping. And that goes for everybody: Stay on guard!
Advent always starts with apocalypse. You can’t do the kind of thing Jesus was doing and expect the world to keep on as it was. And every time people start doing again what Jesus was doing, the whole thing about the world going off its axis starts again.
As we start a new liturgical year with Advent, we might notice as we look back over the year just passed that we live in apocalyptic times. Unprecedented global disasters, the consequence of global climate change accelerating. An Arab Spring, an OWS autumn. World food prices rising and the world economy in shambles exacerbating the suffering of people from the Horn of Africa, to average Greeks and Portuguese, to one in four children in the US who will go to bed hungry tonight, and all while multinational banks, corporations and oil magnates rake in record profits. Apocalyptic.
But not any more apocalyptic than any other generation. Every generation has had to face its apocalyptic moments. Which is why every few years, someone starts predicting the return of Jesus. (Twice in one year might be a record though.)
Every generation gets its chance to be caretakers, and ours is no exception. Jesus’ words are constantly applicable. And the goal toward which Jesus worked, and bids his followers work, is as near now as it was then. Just through the next door.
Apocalyptic times are unsettling. Nobody knows what exactly will happen next. Nobody has a script, or a project outline. Nobody knows how it will all end up. But that’s exactly what makes apocalyptic times so exciting. Now, in this apocalyptic time, is when the essence of humanity becomes clearest. Now, while everything is out of sync is when an individual person has the capacity to alter the course of history. For good or ill.
But whatever you do, don’t sleep through it. Stay awake. Watch for the opportunities to change the world. Now just may be the time of your life!