There are times during the year when we mark transitions in our environment. This time is one of those times. The planting of the spring season now results in the harvest of the fall. The animals we see every day know what is coming: squirrels burying the walnuts for winter food, robins stripping the trees of the last berries of the year before they head south, farming community harvesting the corn and soy beans before the snow sets in.
The readings from the Prophet Malachi and the Gospel of Luke speak to us today of the preparation demanded of us if we are to survive. The prophet Malachi (which means "my messenger") lived and wrote this prophesy about 435 B.C.E. As I was reading some of his history I could think of some striking similarities to our time. The temple had been built with very ornate details. Many priests of the temple were corrupt; money had been stolen; the community was skeptical. Today we hear of thousands of priests who were corrupt in their sexual abuse of children-2 billion had been paid in settlements. Malachi was warning the corrupt leadership of the pending doom and destruction. "But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays". The only salvation is for the people to turn their lives around and once again place their trust in the one God Yahweh.
The Gospel of Luke reminds us of the passing away of everything but the faith of the people. This part of Luke's Gospel is some times referred to the Lucan Apocalypse. Everything not built on the faith a person has in Jesus and the message Jesus preached will be destroyed. The people will face the same fate Jesus faced. If this was written today would the author tell of the destruction of the "seven wonders of the world"; the twin towers; the collapse of the universe? We know so much more today about the universe and its expanse we can hardly understand it. We speak of light years and unfathomable distances and speed. Recent scientific discoveries tell us of the ever expanding universe as more galaxies and constellations are being formed. When will the end come? We may have the same questions today as some people had for Jesus almost 2,000 years ago. That time frame seems very limited as we speak of millions of years and billions of light years.
However in this time of waiting we know too well that our life is limited to perhaps less than 100 years. Upon whom or what do you and I place our faith and trust? Is it on Jesus, His eternal love for you; His promise to be with you wherever you go and whatever you do-in good times and in bad? Or is your trust placed on something which is not of God?
3:50 p.m. Code Blue room A120. A 49 year old man was being transferred from another hospital to ours. As the paramedics were actually transferring him from the stretcher he coded-went into cardiac arrest. I was in the room as the doctors and nurses worked on him feverishly. They pronounced him dead at 4:24 p.m. His 19 year old son and his mother were in route from the neighboring city. I read his file. He smoked 2 packs per day for 30 years and drank heavily. While waiting for his family to arrive I went into the room; took his limp cold hand and prayed for him. I looked at him and asked him, "What were you thinking?" I met his son and mother outside the room and told them of his death. A midst grieving and crying his son said, "I tried to tell dad to stop his smoking and drinking before he killed himself". He was drinking a case of beer a day his son told me. He had a huge tumor on his right lung-radiation was trying to shrink it.
All of us have choices to make in our life. Do not waste your time in planning your life around things that ultimately will lead to your destruction. Addictions can be deadly. Addictions have many root causes but at the same time can be deadly. Jesus urges us to place our lives in the hands of God and do not worry about the rest---God will provide. At the end of the passage from Luke we hear the comforting sentence---after all the warnings of destruction in our life and in our community-"...not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives".
We hear of the pending earth quakes, famines, plagues---awesome sights and mighty signs---all out of our control. In our personal life we will from time to time experience rejection of family and friends. Some people have sickness which forces them to change their view of life and love. How we each deal with our own personal tragedy is directly related to how we view God in our life. We all have choices to make that directly affect how we view life and God's interaction with us.
A young woman who had given birth to 2 children developed uterine cancer and was to have a hysterectomy. She was angry at God. She was angry at the doctors. She was angry. She was able to turn her situation around with the following advice. She did an informal prayer ritual the night before her surgery. She and her husband were in the room quietly. They placed their hands on her womb and thanked her womb for being healthy and a safe place where she and her husband conceived their 2 children. She thanked her womb for providing a warm and nourishing place for her children to grow for 9 months to gain the strength to live outside the womb on their own. She told her womb that it had become sick and had to be removed so she could continue to be a loving wife and loving mother for their 2 children. She told her womb that it was not its fault it got sick-it did nothing wrong and she was not angry at it. But if it was not removed perhaps the sickness would spread to other parts of her body. She thanked the womb for being understanding. She thanked her womb for being healthy for the very important role it played in conceiving their children; and for understanding that now it was sick and needed to be removed so she could continue her role as wife and mother.
When the doctors arrived in the morning they were amazed at the turn around of her presence and attitude. The surgery went perfect and today she is still a loving wife, mother and now grandmother.
So take some time today to look over your life and see where you place your faith and trust. Is it in things that will not stand the test of time? What is your ultimate choice? Remember, we all have choices to make and we make choices every day.
As Jesus tells us, "By your perseverance you will secure your lives."