Today is Thursday the 24th of November, the feast of Ss Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions
David James, with the Sixteen Orchestra, conducted by Harry Christophers, sings the aria from Handel’s Messiah: “But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire.”
Today’s reading is from the Gospel of Luke.
‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfilment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’
The author of Luke’s gospel has seen age-old securities crumble around him. He is writing to a people who should know that they cannot rely on traditional sources of comfort. They have already seen the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. However, we think the Lukan church was affluent. Maybe they struggled to put their trust in God rather than in their own wealth. Is that an issue for me too?
Do I need help to know, deep down, that my true security is in God who loves me?
Our times are also insecure, and we can be made anxious by what we see and hear. Acknowledge how you feel about the ‘distress among nations’ and, if you can stand, do so as you listen again to this powerful reading. ‘Stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’
Increasingly in our times, Christians know that the earth is God’s gift and that we need to cherish it. Ask for God’s blessing on the earth and on the nations of the earth.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.