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Terror in Paris

November 15, 2015 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

November 15, 2015
Mark 13:24-32
Fr. George Smiga

Terror struck again this weekend in Paris. Enraged zealots mercilessly mowed down innocent people celebrating the end of the work week with their families and friends. Despite the best efforts of responsible governments, it seems like our world is becoming a more and more dangerous place. Things seem to be falling apart. The same may be true for some of us in our personal lives. Family problems, health concerns, the loss of someone we love can turn our world upside down. How do we live in the midst of such chaos? What can we do when our world or our lives become unhinged? The simple answer is this: we continue.

There is a Peanuts comic strip in which Charlie Brown decides to build a birdhouse. Lucy comes over and says, “How’s the birdhouse coming along, Charlie Brown?” He responds, “I’m a lousy carpenter, I can’t pound nails straight, and I can’t saw straight. I keep splitting the wood. I’m nervous, I lack self-confidence, I have bad taste, and I absolutely have no sense of design. But considering all those things, it’s coming along OK.” Despite overwhelming odds, Charlie Brown continues. We are asked to do the same thing in our broken world. In this effort our faith can be of assistance, because our faith can support both hope and commitment.

The scene in today’s gospel is one of chaos. The sun does not shine, and the stars are falling from the heavens. The world is falling apart. But Jesus is not absent. He appears in the clouds as the Son of Man. This is the scripture’s way of saying that even amidst the chaos of this world, Jesus does not abandon us. His power is real. It is not clear how he will use his power, but it will be for our good. When we claim in faith that Jesus stands with us in the midst of the chaos of the world, it can give us hope.

It can also bolster our commitment. The gospel says that the Son of Man dispatches his angels to gather the elect. The elect are those who do God’s will. We are called to be the elect by carrying on Jesus’ work. Even in the midst of upheaval, we are asked to continue as good parents, fair employers, and loyal friends. We must continue to work, to love, and to be thankful, even in the midst of violence and confusion.

I wish that the world were a safe place. I wish that the problems of our lives would disappear. But they press against us in fearful ways. That is why it is important to cling to the hope that Jesus stands with us in the midst of the chaos and to re-commit ourselves to his service. Now is not the time to collapse or to give up. Now is the time to continue.

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