Behind the Veil: admonishment

34 “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 35 like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. 36 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.”

A Final Admonishment. After describing the days of the coming of the Son of Man, Jesus warns his followers that proper conduct is always expected – not just carousing and drunkenness (and such things) but even preoccupation with the anxieties represented by the “thorns” in the parable of the sower (8:14). These pressures of daily life lull people into false security. The exhortation to watch and pray foreshadows the same appeal during Jesus’ agony in the garden (22:46). Continue reading

Behind the Veil: signs

25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”

Only Luke uses the word “signs” in this section. The same word was used earlier in the question “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” (Luke 21:7) and “…There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky”(v.11). Perhaps one remembers that Jesus’ opponents “to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven” (11:16). A little later Jesus responds to this request: “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.” (11:29-30) Continue reading

Behind the Veil: more context

25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand……”34 “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 35 like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. 36 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.”

Context in Scripture. This reading is taken from Luke’s gospel just following Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Jesus’ confrontation with the authorities in the Temple (which began back at 19:47, the cleansing of the Temple) now shifts to the future tense. This extended section (19:47–21:38) concerns

  • the coming persecutions and the destruction of the Temple (21:5–19),
  • the destruction of Jerusalem (21:20–24), and
  • the coming of the Son of Man (21:25–36) – our Sunday gospel.

Continue reading

Behind the Veil: context

25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”[ 29 He taught them a lesson. “Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. 30 When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; 31 in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.] 34 “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 35 like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. 36 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.” (Luke 21:25–36;  Sunday’s Gospel: Luke 21:25-28, 34-36)
Continue reading

King of Kings

If you are reading this you have successfully navigated Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and holiday travel. You’re doing great! And I know you will do great navigating Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, and all that comes with the holiday season. Here in the betwixt and between we celebrate Christ the King Sunday. What should this solemnity mean in your life?

After all, the word “king” conjures up many things in the American mind. I suspect if I asked most people, “Who is the King?” the answer might well come back “Elvis.” There is just part of us that lives in a pop-culture world. But then the idea of king is rich in the heritage of our literature, movies and imagination: Richard the Lionhearted, Henry V giving the “band of brothers” soliloquy on the fields of Agincourt, Louis King of France, the original namesake of our parish, and all the modern royal family of England. Still, we fought a Revolutionary War to no longer bow before English monarchs. I always wonder if that is, in some part, what contributed to the origin of “Who died and made you king?” Yet we remain fascinated by kings and queens. Continue reading

Thanksgiving

I am grateful for a day in which we, as a people, pause to give thanks. And who do we have to thank for this holiday? Your answer is likely “The Pilgrims.” You would not be wrong, but then not completely correct, either. Certainly, Thanksgiving and the religious response of giving thanks to God is as old as time. When one considers enduring cultures, one always finds men and women working out their relationship to God. There is almost always a fourfold purpose to our acts of worship: adoration, petition, atonement, thanksgiving. Such worship is part and parcel of life. And yet, there is still a very human need to specially celebrate and offer thanksgiving on key occasions and anniversaries. Since medieval times, we have very detailed records of celebrations marking the end of an epidemic, liberation from sure and certain doom, the signing of a peace treaty, and more. Continue reading

Passing Away: Watch!

Jesus-Apostles-vine-branch2Keeping Watch. 32 “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. 35 Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. 36 May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” Continue reading