What a perfect day to begin Advent, 4 weeks of waiting for the birth of the Palestinian Jewish Christ child. A perfect convergence. It brings the gospel readings back to their roots in the oppressed soil of Palestine where Jesus is still being persecuted under Israeli rule.
In the bizarre gospel reading of today, part of the apocalyptic end times view (20 years after the destruction of Jerusalem) which enveloped the time of Jesus we see strange words on the lips of the Galilean, words which we should not take seriously as apocalyptic was in the Jewish air. This type of literature always arrives when stress and oppresion dog a people and they look beyond history for divine intervention as many did under Roman rule. Luke has taken the Little Apocalypse of Mark 13 and reworked it. Scholars are divided on whether these were actual words of Jesus:
“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory
These wild words sure have bent fundamentalists out of shape.
Most of us contextualize them but take seriously Jesus words to : Keep awake. Look around for signs of hope, signs of the times, Don’t fall asleep.
Christ is coming, always coming—this time as Spirit, the forgotten God.