I am spending Thanksgiving with a dear friend of many, many years. Our friendship has gone through much over the years, given the world and all the changes that have occurred over time, some of which have been deeply troubling. Let’s not forget all that has happened within our church, changes in how we minister and the sexual abuse crisis that continues to cast a shadow of doubt on faithful Catholics.
But what I have noticed in this particular visit is how much we both have grown and changed, as our friendship has deepened in time. Time is moving on quickly and I am just beginning to realize that more significant changes are just around the corner for us. We are getting older and my friend is retiring very soon from active ministry and will be moving to a retirement facility.
My time of turning 70 and retirement is several years down the pike but slowly getting closer. As I think about how much this world is always in flux, changing, I am realizing that none of us are meant for this life and world ultimately. We are all destined to leave this passing world and enter the new heavens and the new earth, a place of no shadows, no tears, no goodbyes.
We are approaching the end of the liturgical year in just a few days and the liturgy is reminding us of the truth of this passing world and our temporary lives here. We are sojourners, travelers, pilgrims... moving forward towards a destiny of never ending joy. This journey is filled with new discoveries, new loves, new awakenings. But it is also marked by the continual process of letting go, of loved ones, relationships, antiquated ways of seeing God and church, hateful prejudices.
Our wonderful fig tree makes another appearance in the gospel as Jesus is pleading us to read the signs of the time. As the fig tree blossoms, summer is near. We need to open our eyes to the ways that nature and the ordinary arc of life give us hints of a passing world. They are to root us in hope, the virtue that is our anchor in this transient world of pilgrims. We HOPE for the promises of the Lord about the new world taking shape, that it is all starting to happen NOW!!!! God’s promises WILL BE FULFILLED!!
Advent immerses us in this HOPE as we awaken to the truth that life is passing and the Lord is returning. He’s coming back. What are the signs of the times...what is happening in your life right now that point to the second coming of Christ???