When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?”
And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In the animated series The Magic School Bus, a character, when confronted with challenges or catastrophes would repeat three times, each with more fear than the last “What are we going to do?” It’s easy to listen to the voice of fear, to focus on ourselves, to wait for our fears to be realized, to blame others. But these don’t do anything to help us share the Gospel or labor with Christ as his disciples.
Jesus tells us, “it will not immediately be the end.” Bad things happen to and around us, in our neighborhood, city, country, and world. Rather than condemn and worry, Jesus invites us to labor with him in the vineyard, performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. We see Jesus’ examples, where, even on the Cross, he welcomed a sinner and asked God to forgive those crucifying him. The works of mercy are tools for listening for the voice of God.
We can ask ourselves: Am I hearing a call to love and serve the least? Who are “the least?” Am I hearing a call to listen, pray, forgive, and bear wrongs patiently? Am I living out these calls? How can I encourage my family and friends to grow and labor in the vineyard with me?
To reflect on prayerfully:
Which of the corporal works of mercy can I perform today or this week?
Feed the hungry
Shelter the homeless
Clothe the naked
Visit the sick and imprisoned
Bury the dead
Give alms to the poor
Which of the spiritual works of mercy can I perform today or this week?
Instruct those who seek knowledge
Advise those who seek me out
Console those who are hurting
Comfort the sorrowful
Forgive those who wronged me
Bear wrongs patiently
Pray for the dead
—Mike Tedone, SJ