The apocalyptic discourses gathered by the Gospel writers reflect the fears and the uncertainty of the early Christian communities: fragile and vulnerable, living in the midst of the vast Roman Empire, in conflicts and persecutions, with an uncertain future, without knowing when Jesus, their beloved Lord, would come.
In addition, the encouragements of those discourses represent for the most part the encouragements that those Christians gave to one another, remembering Jesus’ message. That call to stay awake, taking care to pray and to trust, is an original characteristic of his Gospel and of his prayer.
That’s why the words we hear today, even after so many centuries, aren’t meant for anyone else but us. They’re calls that we need to listen to, we who live now in Jesus’ Church in the midst of the difficulties and uncertainties of today.
Our Church today marches at times like a senior citizen, «bent over» by the weight of the centuries, by the struggles and the labors of the past. «With her face cast down», conscious of her errors and sins, without being able to proudly show the glory and the power of times past.
This is the time to listen to the call that Jesus is making to all of us.
«Rise up», encourage one another. «Lift up your head» with confidence. Don’t look at the future just from your calculations and plans. «Your liberation is near at hand». One day you won’t stay bent over, oppressed or tested by discouragement. Jesus is your Liberator.
But there are ways of living that keep many from walking with their heads raised, trusting in that definitive liberation. That’s why we need to «take care not to be deceived». We don’t need to get used to living with cold and hardened hearts, seeking only to fill our lives with well-being and pleasure, turning our backs to the Father in Heaven and to God’s children who suffer here on earth. That style of living makes us all the more inhuman.
«Stay awake». Awaken the faith of your communities. Be more attentive to my Gospel. Take better care of my presence in your midst. Don’t be lethargic communities. Live «begging energy». How will we follow Jesus’ footsteps if the Father doesn’t sustain us? How will we be able to «stand up before the Son of Man»?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf