Friday, November 25, 2016

Stand Before the Son of Man

The night will be no more, nor will they need light from a lamp or the sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever. And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true, and the Lord, the God of prophetic spirits, sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon.” “Behold, I am coming soon.” Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic message of this book. Revelation 22:5-7

“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 21:36

Ten Commandments for the Long Haul (1981) by the late Daniel Berrigan, S.J.:
  1. Call on Jesus when all else fails. Call on Him when all else succeeds (except that never happens).
  2. Don't be afraid to be afraid or appalled to be appalled. How do you think the trees feel these days, or the whales, or, for that matter, most humans?
  3. Keep your soul to yourself. The soul is a possession worth paying for, they're growing rarer. Learn from monks, they have secrets worth knowing.
  4. About practically everything in the world, there's nothing you can do. This is Socratic wisdom. However, about of few things you can do something. Do it, with a good heart.
  5. On a long drive, there's bound to be a dull stretch or two. Don't go anywhere with someone who expects you to be interesting all the time. And don't be hard on your fellow travelers. Try to smile after a coffee stop.
  6. Practically no one has the stomach to love you if you don't love yourself. They just endure. So do you.
  7. About healing: The gospels tell us that this was Jesus' specialty and he was heard to say: "Take up your couch and walk!"
  8. When traveling on an airplane, watch the movie, but don't use the earphones. Then you'll be able to see what's going on, but not understand what's happening, and so you'll feel right at home, little different then you do on the ground.
  9. Know that sometimes the only writing material you have is your own blood.
  10. Start with the impossible. Proceed calmly towards the improbable. No worry, there are at least five exits.

On this very last day of the liturgical year, the message comes full circle.  We come to expect the Second Advent when Christ comes again…soon.

There is no accident that the First Sunday of Advent for this year (November 29, 2015) used the exact same passage and a few additional verses before it for the Gospel to set the tone of the year (Luke 21:25-28,34-36).    

“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. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”

We were and are admonished to be vigilant to start the year and reminded again as we close the Jubilee Year of Mercy.  Throughout, the themes in Luke, overturning the expected order, fulfilling the manifesto to serve the poor and free those imprisoned by forces beyond their control and to perform duties acceptable to the Lord have been our constant companion.

This was a year we lost many giants in the Church and in the world.

The Most Reverend (Archbishop Emeritus) Peter Leo Gerety of Newark, NJ, who was 104 when he passed away in September. He was the oldest prelate in the Church and was a bishop for more than 50 years.

Global humanitarian Muhammed Ali. 

Paula Merrill, a nun with Kentucky-based Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, was a nurse practitioner to residents of one of Mississippi's poorest counties.  Margaret Held, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was living her dream of erasing racism and poverty in the deep South.  In late August, the two nuns were found dead in the Mississippi community they quietly served for decades, authorities said.

The brutal murder of 86-year-old French priest Rev. Jacques Hamel, at the hands of two men claiming to be Islamic State militants, represents a particular challenge to Pope Francis and other church leaders.
The apparently targeted killing in Normandy while Fr. Hamel was celebrating Mass.

Four Missionaries of Charity were murdered in Yemen and a priest was taken hostage and may have been killed as well.

Daniel Berrigan, the great peacemaker, poet, antiwar activist, and writer who died on April 30, 2016. 

However, compounding those headline losses were the anonymous deaths and injuries to thousands of refugees fleeing violence in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and the unmitigated assaults on non-combatants.  These deaths and injuries prompted the archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, to comment on the world’s increasingly tough attitude toward refugees:  "Someone who lets people drown in the Mediterranean also drowns God — every day, thousands of times."

Wounded 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh sits alone in the back of the ambulance after he was injured during airstrikes targeting Aleppo, Syria, on Wednesday. (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

If we are truly to pray to escape the tribulations that are imminent when Christ comes into our hearts and lives, then we must heed, not just the Good News preached on the first and last days of the liturgical year but the messages contained in the Gospel every day.  It is not vigilance that we are called to put into action.  It is love.

“Love is the test given to us by the Lord Himself,” the late Archbishop Gerety said, echoing Jesus’ words: “Love one another as I have loved you. … Where love is absent, He is too.”  

If we live that, we have nothing to fear when we stand before the Son of Man.

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