Friday - Ordinary Time
1) Opening prayer
increase our eagerness to do your will
and help us to know the saving power of
You live and reign with the Father and the
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel reading - Luke 21,29-33
Jesus told to
his disciples a parable, 'Look at the fig tree and indeed every tree. As soon
as you see them bud, you can see for yourselves that summer is now near. So
with you when you see these things happening: know that the kingdom of God is
In truth I tell
you, before this generation has passed away all will have taken place. Sky and
earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
• The Gospel
today presents the final recommendations of the Apocalyptic Discourse. Jesus
insists on two points: (a) on the attention which should be given to the signs
of the times (Lk 21, 29-31) and (b) on hope founded on the firmness of the word
of God which drives away fear to despair (Lk 21, 32-33)..
• Luke 21, 29-31: Look at the fig tree and indeed every tree. Jesus orders to look at
nature: “Look at the fig tree and indeed every tree; as soon as you see them
bud, you can see for yourselves that summer is now near. So with you when you
see these things happening know that the kingdom of God is near”. Jesus
asks to contemplate the phenomena of nature to learn how to read and interpret
the things which are happening in the world. The buds or sprouts on the fig
tree are an evident sign that summer is near. In the same way when the seven
signs appear they are a proof that “the Kingdom of God is close at hand!” To
make this discernment is not easy. A person who is alone does not become aware
of this. By reflecting together in community, the light appears. And the light
is this: to experience in everything that happens the call not to close
ourselves in the present, but rather to keep the horizon open and to perceive
in everything that happens an arrow directed toward the future. But nobody
knows the exact hour of the coming of the Kingdom, nobody. In Mark’s Gospel,
Jesus says: “But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the
angels in heaven, nor the Son, no one but the Father!” (Mk 13, 32).
• Luke 21,
32-33: “In truth I tell you, before this generation has passed away all will
have taken place. Sky and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass
away.” This word of Jesus recalls the prophecy of Isaiah which says: “All
humanity is grass and all its beauty like the wild flowers. The grass withers,
the flower fades when the breath of Yahweh blows on them. The grass withers,
the flower fades, but the word of our God remains for ever”. (Is 40, 7-8).
The word of Jesus is the source of our hope. What he says will arrive!
• The coming
of the Messiah and the end of the world. Today, many people live worried
concerning the end of the world. Some, basing themselves on a mistaken and
fundamentalist reading of the Apocalypse of John, even arrive at calculating
the exact date of the end of the world. In the past, beginning at “one thousand
years” quoted in the Apocalypse (Rv 20, 7), it was usually repeated: “The year
one thousand has gone by but the year two-thousand will not pass!” And because
of this, as the year two thousand approached, many were worried. There were some
people who anguished because of the coming of the end of the world, committed
suicide! But the year 2000 arrived and nothing happened. The end of the world
did not arrive! In the Christian communities of the first centuries, they faced
the same problems. They lived in the expectation of the imminent coming of
Jesus. Jesus was coming to carry out the Final Judgment so as to finish with
the unjust history of the world here on earth and to inaugurate the new phase
of history, the definitive phase of the New Heavens and of the New Earth. They
thought that this would take place between one or two generations. Many people
would still be alive when Jesus would appear glorious in Heaven (1Th 4, 16-17;
Mk 9, 1). There were some persons who no longer worked, because they thought
that the end would arrive within a few days or weeks (2Th 2, 1-3; 3, 11). This
is what they thought. But even today, the coming of Jesus has not arrived as
yet! How can this delay be interpreted? On the streets of the cities people see
writings on the walls which say Jesus will return! Is he coming or not?
And how will his coming be? Many times, the affirmation “Jesus will return” is
used to frighten persons and to oblige them to go to a determinate church.
In the New
Testament the return of Jesus is always a reason for joy and peace! For those
who are exploited and oppressed, the coming of Jesus is Good News! When will
this coming take place? Among the Jews, there were various opinions. The
Sadducees and the Herodians said: “The Messianic times will come!” They thought
that their well being during the government of Herod was the expression of the
Kingdom of God. And for this reason, they did not accept any changes and they
fought against the preaching of Jesus who invited people to change and to
convert themselves. The Pharisees said: “The coming of the Kingdom will depend
on our effort in observing the law!” The Essens said: The promised Kingdom will
arrive only when we will have purified the country from all its impurity”.
Among the Christians there was the same variety of opinions. Some of the
community of Thessalonica the Greeks, basing themselves on Paul’s preaching,
said: “Jesus will return!” (1 Th 4, 13-18; 2 Th 2, 2). Paul responds that it
was not that simple as they imagined. And to those who did not work he said:
“Anyone who does not work has no right to eat!” (2 Th 3, 10). Probably, it was
a question of persons who at meal time they would go to beg for food to the
neighbour’s hose. Other Christians thought that Jesus would return only after
the Gospel had been announced to the whole world (Ac 1, 6-11). And they thought
that, the greater their effort would be to evangelize, the more rapidly would
the end of the world arrive. Others, tired of waiting, said: “He will never
come back!” (2 P 3, 4). Others basing themselves on the word of Jesus justly
said: “He is already among us!” (Mt 25, 40).
The same thing
happens today. There are people who say: “The way things are in the Church and
in society, it is alright”. They want no changes. Others are waiting for the
immediate coming of Jesus. Others think that Jesus will return only through our
work and announcement. For us, Jesus is already among us (Mt 28, 20).He is
already at our side in the struggle for justice, for peace and for life. But
the fullness has not as yet been attained. For this reason, we wait with
perseverance the liberation of humanity and of nature (Rm 8, 22-25).
4) Personal questions
• Jesus asks to
look at the fig tree to contemplate the phenomena of nature. In my life have I
already learnt something contemplating nature?
• Jesus says:
“The sky and earth will pass, but my words will not pass”. How do I embody in
my life these words of Jesus?
5) Concluding prayer
blessed are those who live in your house;
praise you continually.
Blessed those who find their strength in
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. (Ps 84,4-5)