#Order is the podcast for November 17, 2019, This passage is NOT about the End Times even though Jesus is talking about the End Times. Listen here FREE and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Luke21 #EndTimes #Peace #Change #JoshGates #StephenCovey
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 11/17/2019 The 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 21:5-19.
Two things jumped out at me this week in the Gospel Lesson:
- Do not be lead astray.
- This will be a time for you to testify.
Last week, [the podcast rebroadcast] [Bob delivered the homily which] concerned need, that is, we will not have need once we have entered into Jesus Christ. It is a state of mind that is hard because it means that we will totally depend upon God for everything. It is a mindset that turns the focus toward what God wants for my life.
I have to be careful here, because if you are in an abusive situation, God does not want that, the devil does. So, I am not asking you to stay in a physically, emotionally, psychologically, or spiritually abusive situation. This is NOT what God wants and you need to get out of there as soon as you can.
In past weeks, I have spoken to you about how following God makes others hate you simply because your point of reference and focus on life is totally different than anyone else. When you will not watch a TV show because you think it is offensive to God that really puts you at odds with the culture. When the culture becomes more and more focused upon its own hedonistic wants, rather than needs, then we become more and more out of touch with the culture.
Our Gospel from Luke today is a saying of Jesus which is shared by all of the other Synoptic Gospels. It is Jesus talking about the signs of the end time. Well, actually, Jesus is talking about the signs of what is NOT the end time. It just feels like it is the end time. We are overwhelmed with text messages, email, our own politically preferred news network, our own emojis, our own neighborhoods, our own towns, our own part of the country, and we see all of it as a reason to fight, blame, shame, and degrade. We see lots of ways of living that do not cater to order, but cater to preference.
Life feels like the House of Commons in England in the midst of arguing over policy. It is as if we wish to be like former Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow and we want to yell, “Ordeeeeeeeeh” to get the place together. Life seems chaotic.
As we get closer to Thanksgiving and with the current political situation, we know that we are rent asunder against one another. We cannot even have decent conversations. We have a complete section of the culture that believes if you do not believe what they believe, you should be silenced, not permitted to speak. It can be overwhelming. In the last year, I have had family members who are very close to me cut me out of their lives because I am a Christian and raised my children as Christians. It would be easy to see these signs and say that the end is near.
At my parish, St. Raphael the Archangel, I have one member in particular who is always interested in the end times. I know many people who prepare, look for someone who knows the day, the time, the place. Yet, that is exactly the opposite of what we are supposed to do. When we feel these signs and see these signs, we are supposed to do the opposite: do not believe them.
Just like we find our true need in the Father’s provision for our lives, we also find our perspective from leaning into God being the one who knows and will provide. He will give us the words to say, but he also gives us the perspective. Our life is found in our Baptism. We walk in the Kingdom of God. It is a perspective on life that is different than the world that builds, builds, and builds, hoping every edifice they build will give them immortality. This is folly. All we need to do is watch a bunch of archeologist Josh Gates on the Travel Channel. He is constantly finding lost cities that are no longer inhabited: yet another tribute to humanity’s desire to build itself into eternity.
Our hope, on the other hand, is found in Jesus Christ and the reality that we know a better version of life, a transformed heaven and earth are on their way. So, Jesus says in verse 8 that our response to all the chaos is to not believe it or be worried about it. We have been called to spiritually, “Check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.” So, before you spend three easy payments of $19.99 for the latest “Signs of the end of the world” CD’s, books, etc. take a step back and ask, “When I get caught up in all these things, to whom am I listening?” Are you listening to your inner fear and lack of focus on who it is that ultimately has control over your life? Or, are you hearing the words of Jesus, “Take heed that you are not lead astray.”
I have said many times that Steven Covey has an eighth habit of highly effective people. He says that change is the one true constant in this world. If we are to lead and be successful, whatever that means, we have to have a strong moral center. The moral center tells us which change is acceptable and which one is not. The moral center tells us which change is beneficial and which one is not. The moral center tells us what is good and what is bad. If we are Christians, then our moral center is found in our relationship with Jesus Christ. It is his words found in the Scriptures, and the collection of letters and books collected by his followers that bear his truth within them. We call that collection “the Bible.”
It may also be tempting for us, in the midst of this chaos, to step back and find a place to hide and horde our goods for survival. Yet, when the world was chaotic during Roman times, after Jesus had been killed, the followers of The Way collected the scrolls that would become the Bible, cut them in pages, bound them at one end and invented a cool thing technically called a “codex”, but usually called “a book.” That was our invention. We invented it so that during times of chaos, we could bring the stability of knowing Jesus to others.
In fact, that is what Jesus tells us we should be doing in times of chaos: we should be out there in the world bringing people into our communities that are strong and comforting. We, who find our being in God, do not need a particular land mass to call ours. We are not betrothed to borders, flags, anthems, etc. Oh, sure, we can love our countries, nationalities, etc., but once we have become a Christian, those things are not what defines us.
We are those who have laid down our lives in our baptisms and picked up our new lives in Jesus Christ. We have the perfect stability in times of trouble. Who wouldn’t want to share that? Why are we not sharing that, if we are not? Why wouldn’t we want others to know the joy of following Jesus Christ like we do? So, when life is chaotic for someone, we can share. We can say, “Well, I just know I find great peace and strength from praying when I am in situations like yours. I can show you what I do if you want.”
Look, Jesus, of all people, knows what it is like to bring peace in chaotic times. His whole show trial and execution required him to know who he is and whose he is. We need to have the same demeanor. We know who we are and whose we are. We are grafted into Jesus Christ in our baptism and we find our strength in him.
So, let’s review: Don’t believe the end of times noise from within your heart or from anyone else. It is time to keep cool and talk about Jesus and how found our life in him. Amen.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian