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Jesus wants us to be watchful and vigilant for his return on the clouds of heaven in great light
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Friday, Last Week of the Year, November 25, 2022
Revelation 20:1-4, 11-21:2, Psalm 83 (84), Luke 21:29-33


Scripture quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

“And he [Jesus] told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree, and all the trees; as soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Luke 21:29-33).

 

 

Jesus wants us to live in watchfulness and vigilance for his return in glory on the clouds of heaven in great light, for such vigilance and hope to see the Lord in glory will energize us to live as he wants us to live – totally for him. So today he tells us a parable about a fig tree and all the trees, saying, “As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:30-31).

 

 

In a sense all the signs that Jesus speaks about, with the exception of his final coming on the clouds of heaven, are things that the people of his generation have seen and will see before that generation dies out. These are also things that every generation since Christ has seen. We have all seen wars and have heard rumors of wars. We all know of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and we have all experienced persecution by the world for our faith.

 

 

So when we see these frightening signs happening and see the world turning against us for our faith, proclaiming that evil is good and good is evil, we should turn in hope to the final coming of Christ and live in vigilance and watchfulness for it.

 

 

We need to guard ourselves against the world and the mainstream media, for in many ways it is anti-Christian. The media is constantly presenting false values that contradict the teachings of Jesus and is always trying to present these false anti-Christian worldly values as something good, continually calling people intolerant bigots who do not open their arms, welcome, and support as good diversity of lifestyles, especially sinful lifestyles.

 

 

This is the world that we live in today, and it is getting ever worse. The world that we live in is very much a pagan culture similar to the pagan Greco-Roman culture that Christianity was born into. Our times are now similar to the pagan culture of New Testament times, where Christians were a small minority that believed fundamentally different things than the culture surrounding them. They had a fundamentally different understanding of morality than the world in which they lived.

 

 

It is basically the same today, where the world is promoting and cheering transgenderism, homosexual sex, and same-sex marriage as something good, along with abortion, which they say gives women sexual freedom. These are the values that are preached to us every day by the mainstream media and the New York Times. These are skewed values, not traditional values, not Christian values, not biblical values. These are values that please Satan, not God.

 

 

This is the world that we have to live in, because this is the world that we were born into, and unless we read no newspapers, watch no mainstream news outlets, and talk about them to nobody who does, we cannot help but be bombarded every day by pagan propaganda that contradicts our Christian faith. We are, therefore, living in the same kind of world that Jesus and his apostles lived in. Outside of Judaism, the civilized world at that time was pagan, and many of its values were immoral.

 

 

It is the same today – and more so now than in our parents’ and grandparents’ day. It is getting worse all the time.

 

 

Jesus presents us with an opposite pole of attraction and inspiration, namely his second coming in glory on the clouds of heaven in great light to judge the living and the dead, to judge those who follow, propagate, and proclaim false anti-Christian values. We should look forward to Jesus’ coming on the clouds of heaven in power and glory in great light as God’s antidote to the immorality that is everywhere being preached today.

 

 

Then Jesus says something truly alarming, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place” (Luke 21:32). This is an ambiguous statement, but it sounds like he is telling his disciples that their generation will not die out before all these things that he has predicted, including his return in glory on the clouds of heaven, take place. This surely must have put the fear of God into their hearts, causing them to guard themselves against the world and its false values, and rather put their hope in God’s judgment of those who are proclaiming and promoting these false values.

 

 

But since Jesus did not return in glory during the lifetime of anyone of his generation, it seems that he intended to say one thing when he said this, while his disciples understood something else. Jesus with divine knowledge, deliberately chose to speak in this way to stimulate their faith and their longing for his return in glory. But probably what he intended to say, but didn’t say clearly, was that this generation of unbelieving Jews, which surrounded him, would still be around when he returns in glory. In other words “this generation [of unbelieving Jews] will not pass away till all has taken place” (Luke 21:32).

 

 

Jesus chose not to clearly explain what he meant. We, however, and most of Christians throughout history have lived after Jesus’ generation had passed away. Jesus knew that we would search more deeply into what he really meant, but did not want to say clearly at that time. So it seems that we should understand that he was saying that this generation of unbelieving Jews, that he was living among, will still be around when he returns in glory. In other words, when he returns in glory, there will still be unbelieving Jews who still do not accept him as their Messiah

 

 

Then Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Luke 21:33). The words that really count in this world are Jesus’ words. The world in its worldliness will pass away. Its false immoral teachings that worldly people are proclaiming will pass away. Heaven and earth will pass away, but Jesus’ words will not pass away. So we should put our faith in his words.

 

 

What does all this mean for us today? It means that we should be people of hope, expectation, watchfulness, and vigilance, looking forward to his return in glory. Even though we may not see his glorious return while we are alive in the flesh, our looking forward to it will greatly help us to live as Jesus wants us to live – devoted to him with all our heart, not devoted to the seductive false messages that the world is proclaiming to us through the mainstream media.

 

 

Especially during these final days of the liturgical year and during Advent, which begins the day after tomorrow, we should focus on the hope of Christ’s return in glory, which will be a common theme running through the liturgy of this time of year. We should meditate with the liturgy on the final days of the world and the glory that awaits us. This should support us against the false morality and preaching of the world that we hear all around us every day on the television, the newspaper, and the Internet. Jesus’ teaching about his return should fill us with hope and longing for the Lord and his coming in power and glory on the clouds of heaven in great light to fulfill all our desires and bring us into the fullness of his eternal kingdom of spiritual joy, divine love, and heavenly peace.

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