November 18, 2007

By your perseverance you will secure your lives. Ė Luke 21: 19
If we stop to think about it, the calamitous events our Lord speaks of in todayís Gospel are already here. Disastrous earthquakes, tsunamis, drought, famine, persecution, hatred, wars are all in the newspapers & TV news. The only real question is how do we cope, or how are we coping (or not)?
A study was done recently of two different coping strategies with patients about to undergo major surgery. One group was provided with statistical data about pain & recovery that would help them predict what they were going to experience. The others were helped to develop a positive lens, a frame, through which to see their upcoming surgery. The second group fared significantly better. It seems that knowing the meaning of what will happen is more important than the details of what will happen.
In Christ there is a hope & a source of security not available to the secular mind which sees life as a combination of human activity & blind chance. If good things come your way you should eat, drink & be merry, for tomorrow you may die. If you are unlucky & your cookie crumbles, try to pick up the pieces. Some people can & some canít. Thatís life.
Our Lord has another way. He does not promise the absence of pain & problems. He does offer a Presence & a Power that change weakness into strength & fear into faith. Even when the cookie crumbles, the broken pieces can be reshaped into something even better than the original.
The struggle in life to get things together is tough. We go along for a time trusting in God & then, suddenly, the bad news hits us squarely between the eyes & that old feeling of helplessness & insecurity returns. Our Lordís prescription for all this? ďSee that you not be deceived.Ē How do we avoid being deceived? We begin by recognizing that when human efforts are not grounded in God, they are utterly futile. In the midst of all kinds of uncertainties, we are called to witness to & cling to the transcendent Love that ultimately holds us in His hands.
What Jesus is trying to do here is prepare us to understand the meaning of our sufferings. That is more important than knowing the details of the future. When the sky turns black, when the cookie crumbles, we need not be afraid because of the Good News of Godís great love for us & His promise never to abandon us. This is greater than the power of any person or any circumstance that may threaten to destroy our spirit.
We donít need fortune tellers. So-called risk management is neither free of risk, nor is it free. What we need is a spirituality rooted in the profound wisdom that comes from knowing Christ intimately. Such knowledge does not come cheaply, but it sure beats the alternatives! AMEN!