33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
“But as for that day or hour, no one knows it, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.“
Apocalyptical and end-of-the-world themes are particularly difficult to elucidate and reflect on, as seen in today’s Gospel. It is always open to various interpretations and making it relatable is extremely challenging, especially when most of us are caught up with the busy-ness of our lives to ponder about this ultra-macro perspective.
As compared to the other books in the bible, which describes that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night and offers us little clues for preparation, Jesus is shedding light in today’s Gospel with the reference to the fig tree. Referring to the changes of the fig tree leaves with the variations in seasons, Jesus is preparing the disciples for the second coming. The problem is, perhaps only a few of us nowadays know what a fig tree looks like, especially for us city dwellers living in the tropics. Hence the idea of learning a lesson from a fig tree could be very obscure. Personally, I’ve only encountered a fig tree during my travels in Spain, after more than 30 years on earth.
The issue on the relevance of the second coming lies in the extremes nowadays; on one end, we have the radicals who can be completely obsessed with the end time prophecies and solely focus on these apocalyptic messages, whereas the vast majority of us totally disregard it and relegate it to the back of our minds. Honestly, how many of us truly envision the second coming to happen within our lifetimes? The number of accidents one encounters in his life, the frequent occurrences of natural disasters and the emergence of pandemics from viruses, the list goes on to remind us about the fragility of our lives. There are too many pitfalls at hand to deal with, that we could hardly ponder about end times. However, Jesus’s reminder in the gospel isn’t meant to frighten us, but to prepare us for the changes. Instead of focusing on the destruction of mankind, we should rely on the last few verses which are meant to console and give us hope; hope in the permanence of Jesus’s words and God’s unending love.
Many things in our lives are fragile and fickle; changes are the only constant (besides taxes and death). In order to continue living meaningfully and not be bounded by fear, we should find security in relationships and values that endure the test of time — like in relationships with families and loved ones. Accepting and embracing changes with the support and trust of our families will give us the assurance and will to persevere. Dealing with the concept of the end times doesn’t mean that we have to cripple our lives in fear and be on our toes all the time. I think the key is to focus on things that truly matter and try to do a little good one day at a time. Having our peace being disrupted by an inconsiderate driver on the roads, or that stranger who snatched my parking lot isn’t worth it at all. Living each day as though it is my last is also a tall order; but I think we can start small and just concentrate on doing a little good, one day at a time. It can be simple things like paying compliments to a co-worker on Mondays, offering a decade of the rosary for the front-line workers on Tuesday or choosing to go waste-free on Wednesdays. These simple acts of kindness may not result in a radical reformation of the world, but it will definitely transform us slowly into the image of our saviour.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Dylan Tan)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to watch for the second coming with patience and hope. Let not fear and anxiety consume us and draw us close to you, especially when our faith is weak and our beliefs shaken. May you continue to extend your mercy and faithfulness to each one of us – in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for all the events that you have allowed or brought into our lives. Let us be grateful for the good times and be mindful of the lessons drawn in our difficulties, knowing that you are always with us every step of the way.