Today is the second to the last Sunday in the liturgical year 2022. This year we heard the story of Jesus with St. Luke as our narrator. Next Sunday is the feast of Christ the King, with great upbeat scriptures, a great way to end.
Today is the last Sunday when we hear of “end-time” scenarios, another of these “judgement” passages. Jesus speaks to his disciples:
“You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.”
When I read that passage from today’s gospel, my first reaction was, “Huh?” How can you be put to death but not a hair will be destroyed? (I’m a little touchy about hair.)
Maybe one of the biggest mysteries we deal with when it comes to the life of Jesus is the paradox of death leading to life.
That’s the point Jesus is making. Not only may the disciples suffer because of trying to do their mission, in fact they WILL suffer. Yet, “not even a hair,”... In other words, “nothing will affect the promise I make to you about your eternal destiny.”
We will hear that promise underlined in next Sunday’s gospel.
One day this week. Anne made a great comment about being more agitated over squiggly weather reports than she is about actually sitting in her house and going through storm. Will it? Won’t it? Should we cancel Mass or close the office? What if... etc.
Tuesday, we decided to close Wednesday and Thursday because the reports seemed to suggest that would be a sensible approach. As I write (on last Tuesday) I’m suspecting it may be all sun. We’ll see.
All I can say is it will be a long time before I pray for rain again.
When I think about it though, why should squiggly weather reports surprise us? As good as the science of weather has gotten over recent decades, the squiggly part is the essence of nature itself, or more to the point, human existence itself.
I recently saw a rerun of an old Star Trek: Next Generation episode where the Enterprise crew visited a world with a ‘perfect’ genetically engineered society. Each inhabitant was ‘engineered’ to perform a specific role needed for their world. The short version of the point is that all surprise and discovery had been ‘engineered’ out of the society. Of course, you know what comes after that. Surprise!
I’ve said in the past that I’m not much for surprises. In fact, I think I may have even said, “I hate surprises.” Yet, the truth is, how boring things would be if you knew exactly what was always going to happen.
Think of our heavenly expectations. Is that what Paul is talking about when he says, “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the good things waiting... in the life of heaven.”?
An article in the Catholic Encyclopedia said, “In the mouth of Christ the "kingdom" means not so much a goal to be attained or a place — though those meanings are by no means excluded; — it is rather a tone of mind, it stands for an influence which must permeate men's minds if they would be one with Him and attain to His ideals.”
A tone of mind, an influence to permeate our minds throughout each moment... I pray that it would always be so.
That’s better than praying for rain.