Then someone said to me, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings." Rev. 10:11
Almost everything around us gives us a sense of urgency during this time of the year. The weather is gradually becoming colder and is more inconsistent. It may be warm one day and overnight, it becomes cold. We have adjusted our watches, but not necessarily our body clocks. We begin to make plans for major celebrations, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we don’t feel ready to celebrate just yet. My mood vacillates from wanting to do something now to maybe waiting for a while to see how things will unfold in the future. Someway, somehow, I just want to be done with transitions!
The Scripture Readings for today’s Mass do not help my mood much. In both readings, I catch a sense of urgency, a sense of time running out for both the author of Revelations and Jesus. Jesus has now entered Jerusalem, knowing that this is where he would end his life, betrayed by an apostle, handed over to the chief priests, condemned to death on a Cross, abandoned by his closest followers and friends and buried outside the city walls of Jerusalem, a sign of total rejection by the people whom he came to save.
The Gospels this week have been recording Jesus last days on this journey to Jerusalem, his encounters with the Man Born Blind and with Zacchaeus, the tax collector and finally ending up on a hill overlooking Jerusalem. What he saw made him weep. What he saw was not a city vibrant with life, but a city whose people had forgotten how much God loved them from the very beginning. He saw a city that was not so loving, welcoming or forgiving, but rather a city whose people resisted the graces that God was offering everyone so lovingly and so willingly.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is overcome with a sense of urgency. He can no longer tolerate the way things are. He begins by cleansing the Temple of those activities that do not belong there, and reminds everyone that the Temple is a "House of Prayer." Then Jesus takes up his role as Teacher and begins to instruct his disciples and those who gather around him what it means to be in right relationship with God and with each other.
We get a glimpse of this same kind of urgency in our first reading. The Evangelist is being pushed into a role that he takes up reluctantly. What he is doing does not come naturally. He is being pushed by the Voice of God, by the angels around him, by the messages that he finds written in the scrolls given him. It is as if these impulses are urging him to act and to act boldly. There is no holding back the Will of God!
I often find myself kicking and screaming when I am urged to follow the Will of God in my life. I ask myself so many questions: how do I know that this is God’s Will? How can I do this thing God is asking me to do? Why can’t someone else do it, someone more capable, more learned, more skilled than I am? Yet, when all is said and done, all I’m left with is the task before me that God is asking of me from the beginning. Our first reading sums up what I am called do quite nicely: "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings." With God’s help, let’s just do it!
Fr. Clemente Barron, C.P. is a member of the General Council of the Passionist Congregation and is stationed in Rome.