We’re almost at the end of the liturgical year, and our scriptures challenge us to pay attention to our world’s need for God’s saving power, by awakening to all its perils and problems. We see this in today’s readings, which offer us predictions of cataclysmic events. It is natural to hear these readings and feel alarmed, discouraged, and fearful. When I was in graduate school my professor described this style of apocalyptic literature in this way: “things are bad, and they’re going to get worse, and God intervenes.” Our faith invites us today to keep our eyes on God’s saving power entering our world, in the midst of all that troubles us. This requires us, as Christians, to first acknowledge the painful realities of crises that our world faces: environmental catastrophe, racial injustice, clerical sexual abuse, political upheaval, dehumanizing immigration systems, an ongoing global pandemic, and many other marginalizing and death-dealing systems and structures of this world. Fully acknowledging these realities, we are called as followers of Christ to also pay attention to – and ultimately to partner with – God’s presence intervening in our world: bringing salvation, liberation, renewal, hope, joy, peace, and transformation in tangible ways.
In every generation people have wondered if they will see the end of the world. We often feel our present age is so horrifying, so volatile, so filled with suffering and distress, that these must be the signs Jesus speaks about in the Gospel. Yet we do not know the day nor the hour. As Catholics we wait in hope for God’s decisive victory over sin and death, and we are called to live now as people transformed by God’s power, bearing witness to God’s dream of love and justice for the world through our lives.
We remember that we are part of a lineage of faithful followers who have done this in their own overwhelming times. As we celebrate Black Catholic History Month this month, let us pray in a special way that our African American ancestors in faith, like Sr. Thea Bowman, Fr. Augustus Tolton, Julia Greeley, Daniel Rudd, Billie Holiday, and more, will be like the bright stars that illuminate how we might live as people of faith in our context, pursuing faith, justice, and building up community, just as they did before us.
~ JoAnn M. Lopez, Campus Minister for Liturgy