Do Not Slouch, Stand Up Straight

Luke 21:20-28

At the end of this Gospel reading, Jesus gives us reassurance amidst all the world's difficulties, when we might be asking, "What's the world coming to?  Where will it all end?”   We've all heard these anxious questions, or asked them ourselves. We ask, how can a divided country like ours come together?  Will there ever be peace?  Will terrorism ever end?  Will the willful disregard for other human beings ever end?


To these public worries we add our private fears.  How many couples are struggling with financial and marital difficulties?  Misunderstandings and resentments abound between family members, different age groups, members of parishes. There’s illness and death of loved ones. Put all these reasons for anxiety and worry together, and we have ample reason for asking the question: “Where do find our hope”?  


There are people who offer reassuring answers to these questions in written articles and social media posts.  They'll make an endless list of dire prophecies of the past and then awaken us to the fact that the authors of those prophesies lived hundreds, if not, thousands of years ago.  They’re essentially saying, “Cheer up! The world has always been in a mess. Things are no worse today than they have been in times past.”  But that doesn't make our problems seem any less worrisome.


We have a choice- We can live a life focused on the world where cynicism prevails and leaves us with little hope - a sentiment that reminds me of the book written by Judge Robert Bork (former Appeals Court Judge) which was entitled, "Slouching Toward Gomorrah".  The book spoke pessimistically of the downward spiral of American culture beginning in the 1960’s.


The other choice is to place our trust in Jesus, who assures us of salvation.  In direct contrast to what "Slouching Toward Gomorrah" implies, what does Jesus say?  He says “When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads, because your redemption is at hand!”  That is the core of Jesus’ message. It is as relevant for us today as when he first delivered it to his disciples.


The very things that cause our fear are signs, not of God’s absence, but of His presence.  Jesus never promised that God would preserve us from anxiety, suffering, or even from catastrophes. He does promise, however, that God will be with us in the midst of even our greatest fears, and our deepest disasters.  This is our Advent message as we cross the threshold into a new Church year.


While life’s circumstances are often difficult, just because things aren’t going the way we want them, doesn’t mean that Jesus is indifferent to our plight, or withholding himself from us, or punishing us.  The Gospel is telling us that God is not always about making our circumstances better, but He is always about making us better! 


His primary concern is making disciples out of us, and that’s what He is doing in our trials. He desires that we become the type of disciples who truly follow in his footsteps through the good, the bad, and the ugly.


So much is written about how hard stress is on our bodies, but research reveals that as long as stress doesn’t turn into anxiety, it can actually be good for us because it stretches us and makes us stronger.


How can Jesus tell us, in a time of high anxiety and fear, to “stand erect and raise your heads”?  He can say this because… this world, with all its horrors, is still God’s world. Come what may, God reigns.  


When we hear of conflicts at our border or in our streets — God reigns.  When the media savages public figures with whom they disagree— God reigns. When we feel that we are dying of fright in anticipation of what is ahead for the Church, our parish, or our loved ones — God reigns.


Whether we serve God as we ought -generously, as servants, with love for others, and joy in our hearts; or whether we fail to serve him, engaging in the pursuit of our own happiness instead of God's will - either way, God reigns.


So we're reminded today to recall what our mom's told us, "don't slouch - stand up straight".  Jesus is telling us to do the same. 


And so we pray today, that when we feel ourselves becoming cynical and weary from anxiety, that we'll be drawn to prayer, and reflect on Jesus' presence in every difficult situation.  Every time we see or encounter those difficult situations, let's let them be reminders that Jesus is in fact coming back. And with the hope that we find in this good news, we can be confident that our redemption is most assuredly at hand!




There are no comments for this post.

Add a comment

Will not be shared.
Add Comment

Deacon Blog

Recent Homilies/Reflections from Deacon Bill Read More


Do Not Forget to Remember

Friday, April 19, 2019
If we were to look up the word “remember” (our theme today) in the dictionary, or more commonly, we’d simply Google it,... Read More

Overcoming our Aversion to Speak the Truth

Friday, April 12, 2019
Though we may be extremely devoted to our faith, there’s a temptation on all of our parts at times to not capitalize on the opportunities... Read More

Condemnation Causes Isolation

Sunday, April 7, 2019
One of the keys to making our faith life changing is to find ourselves in the Gospel, to see ourselves in every person in the Gospel stories we... Read More

No Off Switch with Relationships

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
The profound statement that we just heard from Jesus, "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me... Read More

Conversion of our Minds

Sunday, March 24, 2019
Today’s readings give us plenty of imagery to latch onto. In the First Reading, there’s the burning bush from which God speaks to... Read More

Dealing with Anger

Friday, March 15, 2019
In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us about anger. He makes us aware of the increasing dangers of anger by referring to its increasingly disastrous... Read More

Delay Not Your Conversion

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Newspaper or magazine articles many times will deploy what is called a “pull-quote”- a key phrase, quotation, or excerpt that has been... Read More

Hope in our Suffering

Saturday, February 16, 2019
If we’ve been coming to church for a long time or are familiar with the Scriptures, we’ve probably become accustomed to interpret these... Read More

When Our Prayers Hit a Wall

Thursday, February 14, 2019
Today’s Gospel story is intriguing because of this Greek woman's response to Jesus in the face of a seeming impossibility. She's a sign of... Read More

Meet Them Where They Are

Thursday, January 24, 2019
There’s an old adage that has always stayed with me from my days in sales. It said, “In a sales situation, what the buyer has to say in... Read More