Friday, July 13, 2012

Daily Office Reflection: The End of the World As We Know It

 Psalms 16, 17 * 22; Deut 31:7-13,24-32:4; Romans 10:1-13; Matthew 24: 15-31
"Oiling of Hands"

A Blessing Moment

In Matthew, we have end of the world, frightening images presented to us by Jesus. Just prior to yesterday's beginning of this oration by Jesus, he had left the temple where he had his final confrontation with the scribes and Pharisees. He leaves that holy place and the disciples don't get his mood, and point out to him the beauty and wonders of that central temple. Jesus talks to them about "the end times," of which our sixteen verses today are a part.

Scholars have written volumes on this passage. Many point to these verses as Matthew giving his readers solace about the destruction of the Temple they so dearly loved, and showing how Jesus predicted the event. Some say Matthew and his readers truly believed Jesus was coming again to them in their lifetime, saving them from the torment in which many lived. A few "prophetic" people today will cite these verses (and other apocalyptic language from other books of the Bible) as justification for their belief that the end is nigh.

What do we take as metaphor? Analogy? What do we take literally? How can we 21st Century Christians understand and learn something from this passage and not dismiss it out of hand? Jesus is, in this Gospel passage, on the precipice of his Passion: the torture, execution, burial and resurrection that will transform the world.

If we try to personalize these verses, this apocalyptic discourse by Jesus, what event(s) in our lives, and those in our immediate circle, or event(s) that we have participated in, have altered our reality and understanding of the world? How have those "world-changing" events in our lives changed our perceptions and how we interact and live in this world?

How can we take those personal experiences that have so moved and changed us, and give similar opportunities to those who have not experienced this life-altering love that is the center of our belief and faith?

These verses, yesterday, today, and tomorrow are not meant to frighten us, but to entice us to share our  experiences and change the world of others.

Copyright 2012, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

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