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Luke 21:29-33

The Signs of the Times

Today’s readings speak of signs. What are we to make of the signs of today’s world? In the gospel, the fig tree is a sign of the nearness of the “Kingdom of God.” We are encouraged to be aware and alert to the signs of the times. The signs of the presence of God.

What are the signs of our times and how do I read them? We experience international crises, suicide bombers, and natural disasters. We witness women and men weeping, wailing, and mourning the loss of spouses, sons and daughters. We watch as families devastated to the breaking point crawl in rubble, mud and wreckage in search of children and loved ones maimed, or buried alive. We are told that our oceans, air, forests, and lands are polluted, in danger of biological death. These scenes do not come as dreams and visions, but are readily available on television. It is almost too much to take in. Where is God? Doesn’t God care?

Teams of thousands of men and women speaking a multitude of languages respond to natural disasters around the world. Financial aid pours in like water – including jars of pennies collected by school children. Pure water, blankets, clothes, food, tents, even helicopters arrive as needed to distant corners of the world. Doctors, social workers, construction workers leave mother, father, spouse and family to assist. School, families and communities open their resources to the homeless.

In small print we read not only of random rapes, murders, suicides, but also of anonymous fortunes bequeathed to charities; women gathering to pray; groups meeting in support of each other; and legions of religious, social and civic volunteers.

The Church is an example of struggle and strife and yet within individuals are a constant source of comfort, support and encouragement.

Where is God in all of this? At times it is very difficult for me to recognize the face of God. It occurs to me that when Jesus said, “Do this in memory of me,” he was speaking to me not only about a way of doing, but a way of being. Have I been able to see the face of Christ in the weeping widow or mother of the “enemy” soldier, the proud but devastated parent, the scared lost child? Some faces are easier for me to read than others.

The good news in today’s readings may come from the psalm. God will not abandon (us) me. God is the source of faith, hope and love. The challenge is for me to recognize it in the times, in the signs and in the faces.

How present has God been to me today?

By Joan Blandin Howard

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