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Facing Turmoil

November 13, 2016 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

November 13, 2016
Luke 21: 5-19
Fr. George Smiga

Today’s gospel is full of turmoil and confusion. In it the disciples ask Jesus this question. “What signs will occur when these things begin to happen?” Because of this question we might imagine that Jesus’ response is about describing some future event, something that is to happen at the end of the world. But when we listen to what he says, it sounds all too familiar. Jesus describes a world in which there are wars and insurrections, where one nation is pitted against another, where families are divided one against another. Jesus is describing not some future world, but the world in which we live.

This allows us to apply Jesus’ word to the occasions in our life when we experience turmoil. And there’s reason to believe that we may be experiencing turmoil today. We have just finished a political season that has been the most divisive in our country’s history. The election is over but the turmoil continues. Many people are elated; many are dejected. But everyone is wondering what will happen, who will be helped, who will be left behind. Some of us here might be facing turmoil in our families, turmoil that is occasioned by divorce or misunderstanding or sickness. We wonder what will happen. Can the divisions among us be healed? Will my life ever become normal again?

However we might be facing turmoil in our lives, Jesus’ words today are helpful. Because he tells us to do three things when our life is in confusion. The first thing that he says is, “Do not be deceived.” When our life is in turmoil it is important to use our heads. It is important to test the truth. In light of the recent election all kinds of things are being said about things that will happen in the next four years. Much of it is conjecture. Much is rumor or lies. Do not be deceived. Test what is true before you react. When our families are divided, people are quick to give advice about what we should do. They say, “Don’t talk to her. Make sure you tell him this.” Do not be deceived. All advice is not wisdom. Certain choices can make things worse. Test what is true before you decide to act.

The second thing that Jesus tells us is, “Do not be terrified.” When our life is in turmoil, it is easy to be afraid. But we are people of faith. We believe that in every circumstance God still loves us, and God is acting for us. It is important to believe that God always has a plan and is in some way working through the events of our life and our world to bring about God’s Kingdom. Both in our country and in our families God will not abandon us. In faith it is possible to replace fear with hope.

The third thing that Jesus says to us is that we should testify. When our life is in turmoil it is particularly important to witness to the truth of the gospel. We are called to speak out—not out of anger or selfishness, but for justice and service. In our country at this time it is particularly important for us to speak out for those who have no voice, to speak out for the life in the mother’s womb, to speak out for the undocumented immigrant who is trying to keep his or her family together. We should speak out for our fellow citizens who cannot find good jobs and for every person who is need of adequate health care.  

In our families when we experience division, it is always important to speak out for what will heal rather than further divide, to promote dialogue and understanding, and testify to Jesus’ teaching of mercy and forgiveness.

When our lives move out of balance it is easy to panic. That is why Jesus tells us three things that are important in times of turmoil. First: Do not be deceived. Test what is true. Second: Do not be afraid. God is still with us. Third: Witness to the truth of the gospel especially speaking out for those who have no voice. These three directives allow us to find a path through troubled waters. If we embrace them, we can also claim the promise that Jesus makes at the end of today’s gospel. He says, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

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