These are strange times. The world is suffering. I’m certainly not going to try and dissect the economic and political reasons for why our country is experiencing record home foreclosures or sky-rocketing unemployment. But, it seems to me that one way of looking at it is that much of our current problems stem from something rather basic-broken promises.
We elect officials on the promises of their campaigns (and we all know how that goes). We invest our money with savvy business types because they assure us they know better than we do on how to protect our financial future. Jobs that were once safe and secure suddenly show signs of vulnerability no matter how many years we’ve put in, how much dedication we’ve shown.
Remember when people used to say "I give you my word"? It seems we have lost faith in that word. When I go to my neighborhood parish for Mass, I see many empty seats in the pews. I think perhaps many of us are lost. The future appears uncertain when so much of what we were told to believe in is failing us. And so we look at the priest, perhaps, as just another person with promises that sound too good to be true.
But in today’s parable of the fig tree, I am reminded of something truly revolutionary, something that I may have forgotten in all my worry about tuition and car payments-Jesus does not break his promises. We cannot lose faith in his Word. Jesus told his disciples that upon the appearance of certain signs, we shall know "the Kingdom of God is near." Our salvation, then, comes from the promises of Christ. It doesn’t waver or change or fluctuate like the stock market. It isn’t revoked if we miss one payment. The promise is strong, unshaken and solid. In fact, if you listen to the parable, Heaven and earth are frail and insubstantial in comparison to our Lord’s word; "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." This promise is more sure and certain than the very structure of the world.
Our lives are constantly changing, oftentimes not for the better. How easy it is to get caught up in the very real suffering we experience not only in our own lives, but all around us. But what we must remember is that God is not to be judged by the character of the world. If we turn our attention back to Him, we can find that His love remains constant. His promise, unwavering. And, remember, the promise is the Kingdom. So fill those pews back up, the return on this investment is a guaranteed winner.
Marlo Serritella is on staff at the Holy Cross Province Development Office in Chicago.