By Bishop Rubin Phillip ______________________________ [caption id="attachment_1626" align="alignright" width="268" caption="Bishop Rubin Phillip"][/caption] Dear Friends I welcome all of you, especially President Jacob Zuma and Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize, to this...
It is a good idea to bear in mind that we are almost at the end of our liturgical year, and heading to the celebration, next Sunday, of CHRIST THE KING. Recall from a reflection a few weeks ago when it was said that we will never know where we are going unless we know from whence we come.
We must not run the risk, as TODAY’S OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [MALACHI 4: 1 – 2a] reminds us, of having “neither root nor branch” which are both needed for a joyful celebration of the Lord’s kingship. Our roots have to be firm in order to have a branch strong enough on which to hang an open-hearted acceptance and understanding of Christ as King.
This Sunday we need, with positive frame mind, to gather our resources from the year which is very nearly over. Surely there have been failures, disappointments, and setbacks but why should these be the dominant factors? If this is what we choose then there exists within us a certain amount of the arrogance to which Malachi refers. Why? …. because we are making ourselves the focus instead of accepting that if we are able to name our God in real reverence (fear) then the setbacks are burnt-up. In addition, face the prophet’s challenge to make ourselves available to the healing which the Lord brings in his wings, and so come to know that we shall rise!
Surely this approach and attitude will bring something of special value to next Sunday’s celebration?
So, we need to forget about this year’s woes and troubles and come into “the presence of the Lord” – as TODAY’S PSALM [ 98 or 97] tells us. However, the Psalm also teaches that more is required to the coming into his presence! It must not be a reluctant coming but, rather “clap your hands … ring out (your) joy at the presence of the Lord … he will judge with fairness.”
TODAY’S GOSPEL [LUKE 21: 5 – 19]
has a real message for us if we are willing to turn it a little against ourselves. We live in a world which seems to be topsy-turvy! There is so much bad news, so many tragic (and often traumatic) occurrences … so many people faced with earthquakes, floods, persecution, civil strife and political oppression. In our own country strikes, corruption, gross failures in service provision, lack of personal and home security, and needless violence. We can easily become pessimistic, gloomy about the future, pessimistic about so much. Is there any hope for and of GOOD NEWS? Will it ever change for the better? “When will this be” Jesus was asked? So often we ask him the same question because we have become too focussed on the appearance of things. When thus focussed we easily slip into obsessions – and this is what Luke tells us prompted the lesson Jesus taught in our Gospel extract.
But how do we ask the question … in what frame of mind … from what perspective … and with what motive? Are we asking after we have come joyfully into his presence? Do we ask from within the framework of a faith which knows that “not a hair of (our heads) will perish?”
Am I too frequently down on life, down on myself, downon others, and down on the Lord
? If so. then I have forgotten where I am going because I have forgotten from whence I have come!
“Take heed that you are not led astray.”
Yes, others are able to lead us astray – but we are also capable of leading ourselves astray! Make no mistake about it but our own negative, pessimistic, and over-critical attitude to any present situation can easily lead us into dead-end streets.
“The time is at hand”
Jesus says, and the time is now. The time is ours! Be wary of crying ‘wolf’ too loudly and too regularly.
This is why OUR NEW TESTAMENT READING [2 THESSALONIANS 3: 7 – 12] contains an important and contemporary message. Present in the Church of Thessalonika were those who had, as it were, downed tools and were shouting the odds that ‘the end was nigh’. Paul saw this as disruptive and negative in its pessimism.
As a result he challenges everyone to “do their own work in quietness and to earn their own living.” AND, to do this even though it may well entail elements of “toil and labour.”
So, let us (as the Psalm suggests) “raise a shout before the King, the Lord”