Friday, December 01, 2006

34th Friday in Ordinary Time (II)
Rejoicing in the Buds

Think of the fig tree and indeed every tree. As soon as you see them bud, you know that summer is now near… So with you when you see these things happening: know that the kingdom of God is near…

As we listen to these words of Jesus in the gospel placed side by side with John’s vivid description of the birth pangs of the new heaven and new earth it’s quite natural to think immediately of the end of the world and the end of time. And that is, of course, what the scriptures are speaking about, especially in these last days of our church’s liturgical calendar.

But we should take care to remember that Jesus’ words are addressed to us as much as to past and future generations. We must be careful not to limit our search for the signs of the coming kingdom only to the extraordinary and marvelous things that John describes. Neither should we think that these things will only happen far into the future; certainly not within our own lifetime. For are there not signs of the kingdom coming among us everyday? Are the fruit trees of the kingdom not budding already? Do we not see, in our own day, efforts being made for peace and justice, life and love…? Many of these may not be very big or extraordinary signs. In a bus packed to capacity, for example, we might notice someone giving up her seat for someone else who needs it more. But isn’t it in the nature of buds to be small and even inconspicuous?

And if we do heed Jesus’ advice, if we do take care to notice and acknowledge the signs of God’s presence, will we not also be inspired to do our part, to contribute our own energies and efforts to hastening the coming of God’s kingdom? Will we not also share in the experience of the psalmist, who joyously proclaims: My heart and my soul ring out their joy to God, the living God?

How is the tree of God’s kingdom budding around us today?

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