A Peculiar Vision

Lk. 21::25-31

A couple of years ago the phone rang at 2 a.m. “Mr. Gage, this is John. There has been an automobile accident here in Boston and your son, Chris, is in the hospital. They hope he is not paralyzed and that he will regain consciousness. They have been able to sew up most of the cuts.” It was the call every parent dreads. My wife and I felt as though we stood on the knife-edge of irreconcilable disaster. Should Chris die, our life, as we knew it, would be over. We had a personal apocalyptic moment. Forget about anyone else, the nation, the world. Who cared what might happen to them? Our world would end.

Have you not had a similar apocalyptic moment in your life, or at least seen it in someone else’s? In many things, where you stand depends on where you sit. When your world comes to an end, the rest of the world is redundant. It is easy to pass off apocalyptic moments as merely “traumatic experiences.” But the truth of the matter is that moments of loss to the religious eye are windows into reality. They are epiphanic, or “seeing moments.” My son, Christopher, recovered nicely, but nonetheless both my wife’s and my priorities were radically realigned. We had had an apocalyptic glimpse of reality.

Now Jesus appeals to our ability to discern “the signs of the times,” to see with eyes of faith, when He talks about our “reading” of the fig tree. In Luke’s Gospel lesson, Jesus links that discernment with the apocalyptic vision that precedes the parable. In the apocalyptic vision (of tumult in the sky and on earth) there are latent truths which underlie reality and history. Those truths are as follows: Man is not the master of his fate and the captain of his soul. Truth shall ultimately overcome falsehood, sham, pretension, and calumniation. Righteousness and justice will ultimately prevail. Life as we know it will end. And finally, your and my vision is partial and not complete.

During Advent, which is a season of penitence, pay heed to your occasional apocalyptic glimpses. They are your invitations to consider what is really meaningful in your life as well as the essential truths of our Judeo-Christian heritage. Cherish your intimations of the finality of life - of the struggle between despair and hope, between evil and good, between sin and mercy. Our apocalyptic glimpses prepare us to respond to God’s wake-up call and to receive with defenseless hearts the glory of God’s love as revealed in the coming of a little baby, who you and I now know as our Savior, our guarantor of eternal life, Jesus Christ. Amen.