How do we live in difficult times? It rather depends on the difficulty: physical (earthquakes, tsunami, disasters) social (violence, unrest, political confusion), or personal (all sorts of things can throw us – bereavement, job/family/local issues). Any or all of these can be uncomfortable, and bring a temptation to keep our heads down, go with the crowd . . .
But that is not our Christian calling, and today’s gospel (Matthew 24:1-14) comes from a time of trouble. What is it saying?
- the First thing is the readiness to be different Mt 24:4 – don’t be deceived,even by false prophets (24:11). We need to know our faith well enough not to be mislead. Then we may have to stand out from the crowd.
- If the 1st thing is to be ready to be different, the 2nd is not to be surprised – and don’t be panicked. The point of the warning – and there is a good deal of language like this in the gospels, there as a warning – is just so that we expect it, and are able to say “They said it would be like this”. Don’t worry about it, but do read and remember. Things won’t always be terrible – but when they are, . .
- And hold on (Mt 24:13,14) Paul says something similar to the Thessalonians in another of today’s readings (1 Thessalonians 2:9-13). Don’t keep your head down, but up – looking to God, and “live the kind of life that pleases God, who calls you to share in his own Kingdom and glory” – a good line!
The Kingdom season reminds us that God’s rule is not yet unchallenged here. We can look forward to a time when it will be, but in the meantime:
be ready to be different
don’t be surprised
hold on, and live well for God.