From the Desk of Father Davis
As our pilgrimage group prepares to return home from the Holy Land, we will have just celebrated a moving and very emotional closing Mass at the Church of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is there where our Lordís eyes filled with sweat and blood, so real was his awareness of his immanent sufferings. Since Olive trees do not die, even the trees in the Garden of Gethsemane are filled with significance. Those trees may actually have been there at the time of Jesus. They are the silent witnesses of the Christ event. Jesusí presence made the Garden of Gethsemane holy. Angels ministered to him there. The heavy significance of the salvation of the world was being borne by Jesus in prayer there. Jesus was arrested there. And the final chapter of Jesusí earthly life took on an intensity for the redemption of the world there. The Paschal Mystery was soon to be brought to fruition. Those who are wise will know that the life, death and Resurrection of Christ ushered in the wisdom by which we must live, if we intend to live forever and shine like the stars. The truth of this teaching is not to be missed.
As our liturgical year of grace soon journeys to conclusion, our readings this weekend illustrate the importance of a transcendent vision of life, how this life is connected to the next, and how the current tribulations and duress are to be framed in the light of eternity. The Book of Daniel makes a clarion calling for wise living, for a godly perspective as we journey, for a healthy sense of the beyond. With the help of the Archangel Michael, may we pass through the present distress and find our names written in the Book of Life. Through this faith-filled vision of life, which guides our path ahead, may we be among the wise who shine brightly, and like those who lead others to justice, so as to shine like the stars. It is when the Lord is our allotted portion and cup, as the Psalmist says, that we shall have this holy inheritance. Heaven awaits.
Markís Gospel underscores these eschatological themes. He quotes Jesus as saying, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away. How urgent it is, therefore, to keep our lives grounded in the efficacious words of Christ, to saturate our minds with the inspired Scriptures, the Word of God made text. Christ firmly exhorts his hearers that the day will come, when he will return, coming in the clouds. He is speaking of the Eschaton, the Second Coming, the grand conclusion of Salvation History, when Christ will judge the living and the dead. He gives us advice of stellar value: ďhave the strength to stand confidently before the Son of Man.Ē We must maintain a readied and vigilant posture.
So often, in our modern world, we have a false sense of confidence. We presume to be self-sufficient, and create our own happiness. Many times, we have fallen prey to contemporary mores which given us an exalted sense of self, we become self-referential, and think we are in total control. The humble person, however, will readily admit, that there is so much that is beyond us. So much is beyond our control. Challenging enough it is to attend to our own personal sphere of influence, to make our lives fruitful, healthy, and fulfilled. The journey to find inner peace is so often fraught with turmoil. Precisely why we need Jesusí exhortation today. So that we donít become directionless, so that we donít become slothful and spiritually lazy in the matters of eternity, so that we donít waste time!
Yes. For followers of the Lord Jesus, Heaven is our goal. It began with intensity in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was carved out of sinful humanity by the blood of the Lamb. It was ushered in by the redemptive death of Christ, so as to reveal the glory of the Resurrection. Those who forget this story do so at their own peril. May we, therefore, strive to be among those being consecrated in the truth of Christ, so as to have the strength to stand confidently before the Son of Man, and shine like the stars forever.