In a few weeks we will begin a new liturgical year and to tell you the truth most people in the church will not know it has happened except our vestment colors change from green to violet. Most of us in the pews do not make a big deal of the annual change of our liturgical cycle but it is a big deal. It is a time to reflect and it is a reminder that God is always there waiting for us to change and allow ourselves to be recreated in his image.
Advent is a time of preparing to encounter the Lord once again. I say once again because we will start fresh with the gospel accounts of the first encounters with Jesus by those who had drifted away from God. Once again we will hear the message of the One who is to come – the Messiah.
But before we get there we have in these closing weeks of this liturgical year been hearing about the rewards of those who have responded and believed. In the last few weeks we had the Feast of All Saints reminding us of the multitude of those that are standing before the throne of the Lamb because they had remained faithful. We have seen Jesus choose to dine with Zacchaeus, a sinner, instead of dining with those who believe they are righteous. That story should remind us how Jesus restores what sin has destroyed in us.
Today’s gospel is another reminder that one day this world will end. The question asked of Jesus is when this will happen. What is our fascination with the end of the world? We have had books, movies and TV programs with the destruction of the world as its theme. Evil comes to destroy earth in the form of aliens from space, tyrants who conquer and enslave people for their own benefit or even extinct creatures who once again are resurrected. The Hunger Games was a movie series with this theme of evil enslaving the world.
We have in the recent past seen Christians in the Middle East crucified, burned alive and killed by the thousands. We have witnessed their churches destroyed and their women and children raped and enslaved. Yes everything Jesus said we would witness is happening today for evil exists and it does seek to destroy our relationship with God.
In America the evil we see is much more cunning. It disguised itself as political correctness which silences and shackles us. We allow the slaughter of millions of children for something called a choice. It is not a choice; it is an evil that is robbing us of individuals gifted by God to enhance our lives. We must admit we see daily see evil silencing any public witness of our faith because it offends someone else. If Christianity whose foundational gift is one of love is unable to give witness then we are not being the people God calls us to be.
Jesus did not come just to offer us only salvation; he came to bring us into his kingdom of light and overcome this evil that seeks to destroy it. We are not powerless in the face of this this evil because we have all the tools to fight evil if only we choose to refuse to be silent. Every day, including the beginning of the new liturgical year, is an opportunity for us to “… put on the new self…in the likeness of God…created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:24). Every day is an opportunity for us to have our minds renewed as well as our hearts so we can embrace our call to be his witnesses.
We need to avoid getting caught up in worrying about the “end times” of the earth or even your own morality. It is possible that we will miss out on the certainty of a life in Christ because we have failed to understand how the death of Christ restored us. His death provided the means for us to overcome evil in our lives by the gift of the Spirit.
God has called us to be witnesses not just believers. We need to get busy giving witness to his promises so others will be able to overcome the evil that seeks to destroy them. Todays’ gospel should grab our attention because it is a sobering call to look at the world around us and the evil that exists because we are silent. It is a message not to be complacent but to be as bold as those who seek to silence us.
Jesus tells us we will always have this battle on the earth until he comes in glory. He is also telling is to be of good cheer for he has overcome the world and all its evil. God’s desire is that we stand up and are willing to be strong in the face of opposition and say as Joshua “as for me and my household, I will follow the Lord.”