As we head into the commotion surrounding the holidays, it’s good to remember Jesus’ message in Luke 21:29-33 and Luke 21:34-36.
Jesus told his disciples a parable.
“Consider the fig tree and all the other trees.
When their buds burst open,
you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near;
in the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that the Kingdom of God is near.
Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.”
It continues in Luke 21: 34-36
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Those are Friday’s and Saturday’s readings, given separately although they appear back to back in the Gospel. It seems to me to be pertinent to present them together here.
Some might be tempted to say that Jesus is here talking about the coming apocalypse. I am tempted to say that Jesus was talking to the disciples about His coming death on the cross and resurrection. He does talk about “this generation” and “tribulations that are imminent.” In whatever context we take this parable and teaching, the message remains the same: Be vigilant and be ready. Listen to what Jesus tells you, for while there will be tribulations and distractions, while you may become drowsy or even drunken or anxious, one thing will remain steady: His words – His message, His teachings, His love.
We live in a very busy and distracting world. Everything vies for our attention. Marketing messages assault us everywhere. Breaking News punctuates every newscast, even in marginal news programs about entertainment and science. The tone often feeds our anxieties. And with the Christmas and other holidays approaching, the pressure to buy, buy, buy … save, save, save … hurry, hurry, hurry … will be even more distracting. Parties will encourage us to drink, often to drunkenness.
Could Jesus’ parable be any more apt now?
If we take the time to sit back and turn off the world around us for a moment, to focus on something else, something more worthy of our attention, we will find something more timeless. It’s Jesus’ message.
God wants our attention, too. He wants a moment of our time. To commune with us, His people. And He wants us to give attention to others. It’s about love. It’s about caring less about possessions and wealth and more about our connections with one another.
So I think the heart of these passages from the Gospel of Luke is that the world continues on around us, often at a breakneck speed, but in all the breathless rush, Jesus is still there and His “words will not pass away.” His words of comfort and wisdom and command.
We have just passed Thanksgiving, the time of giving thanks. Now we rush headlong into Christmas and New Years. For many of us, that time will pass in a blur. Take a breath. Several breaths. Remember Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit. Remember love. They will not pass away, ever.