Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Holy Week Reflections, Part IV: Judgment

There will be no Ten (or Observations) at all this week. Instead, I'll be doing a reflection on an event that corresponds to each day of Holy Week, all the way through Easter Sunday itself. It is a purification of sorts; to remind oneself that it isn't always about this world and this life. Politics, sports, and culture are all important, but in the end, we aren't taking any of those things beyond. The Ten will resume on Monday, April 6. -- J.L.

Some of the most profound teachings Jesus gave came within a day of the coming of his "Hour." Sitting on the Mount of Olives, he recounted what the day of his return would be like through parables and warnings; for many people, the association is with all of the cataclysmic events - earthquakes, volcanoes, the sky darkening, and so forth. However, the watchword of Jesus' teaching in this matter is preparation.

Be prepared, for we do not know when the Son of Man shall return. And when he does, are we ready to make that full accounting with him, as the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) relays? Are we prepared with what we need in appearance (Wedding Feast - Matthew 22:1-14), substance (Ten Virgins - Matthew 25:1-13), and deed (the aforementioned Talents, as well as doing for the least of Jesus' brothers - Matthew 25:31-46)? Are we ready to answer the Big Questions?

One of the most fascinating parts of what Jesus says while talking to his disciples on the hill overlooking Jerusalem that day was that no one knows the day or the hour in which he will return (Matthew 24:36), not even him. Only the Father in Heaven knows. Presumably he knows know, but this is so very important because it speaks to a failing in us as human beings that goes all the way back to the Fall of Man: the desire for complete knowledge and complete control.

We all like to be in control, and we all want to know when, how, and where everything is going to occur. Part of this is a natural curiosity, but the fundamental larger is flaw is our desire to be God. It's what got Eve in trouble in Eden, and it is what still gets us in trouble now. Occasionally, people are made to be fools in trying to "predict" when the Day of Judgment will be (like that time in 2011), but most of our attempts at control and knowing tend to have a more subtle feel to them. 

Many people know the prayer about having the strength to accept things beyond control and change things that we can control. It's a great prayer to remind oneself of constantly, even as we repeatedly stumble and fall into the trap of believing we can indeed know and control all things.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:8-11).

Kyrie Eleison.