We are coming to the end of the cronos year - 2010 will end in about seven weeks. The Liturgical Year, on the other hand is ending in just two more weeks. The changing of the leaves and the cooling temperatures signal that we are at the beginning of the end of the year. The liturgical readings provides us with the annual readings which confront us with the challenge of facing our own life's end, and the end of our world, as we know it. This is the time for the fear-mongers. Emphasizing death, destruction, leading to untold, unnecessary worry and spiritual turmoil.
How many of these fear-mongers will take the time to emphasize those last few words of this week’s Gospel; "Yet not a hair of your head will be harmed." There will that upset all around, yet our God is the God of life, not the God of death and destruction and He is our Good Shepherd. The darkest valley is not dark for Him. As a matter of fact, it is those terrible and dangerous times, when we have given up does our Faithful Prodigal Father reveal Himself as He truly is, all powerful, merciful, and gracious. For us who have to journey to the place where we ourselves thought, this is the end, it is all over, light and love breaks through. With this newer and deeper understanding of what is real life and real love, we will have the necessary strength to persevere. It is in and through that God given of perseverance, we, as Jesus in the Gospel, will save our lives.
So, then we see, the future holds no fear for those who have seen their worlds crumble. Their plans not realized. The towers they spent so much time and energy to build, they to their horror saw them fall, and crumble. All there was left was rubble. Was that the end? Of course not! It never is, for those who believe in the spiritual journey. That ending is THE BEGINNING of a newer, and better life. A life not caught up with the demands of this world, but with eyes directed towards the demands of that life which will never end. Over these many years I have seen individuals and families in a matter of seconds have one world end a new way of existence forced upon them.
While I was vacation, I was able to see the History Channel's documentary on the horrors of 9/11. It was a documentary that compiled the actual video recordings of individuals as they journeyed through that seminal day in the history of our country. It began with a wonderful sunny New York morning, with people beginning to go about their morning chores, in preparation for just another day. All that changed when those planes flew into the Twin Towers. What followed was at times very, very difficult to view. I do not go to horror movies, but what was that TV set was beyond any horror movie. This was real. To see the thousands of people running in panic before on-coming clouds of dust, that they were unable to escape was really unnerving. I was looking at real people, running scared, running for their lives. Then you were presented with the picture of firemen either going into the twin towers, or preparing to go in. You saw the faces of those who would never be seen again. There was a look of steady resolve on their faces as they moved towards their destiny. No looking back, just straight forward. They were formed and trained for that day. They did not shirk their duty. They will always be remembered. How could they ever be forgotten? Their physical lives ended on that day, but their efforts and heroism will last forever. The lives of their loved ones have been forever changed. The sun did rise on the September 12th, and the process of living continued on a new and different level. Death, and evil can never win.
That is the message of this week’s Gospel. We will be prepared, strengthened, and trained for whatever may come our way. We will not be overwhelmed. Jesus Christ by His death and resurrection has provided us with that guarantee. When we are caught up in fear, and which one of us has not, we are forgetting we have been provided with the gift of faith for such occasions. This is the truth that comes to us from the words, actions, and life of our Savior, Jesus Christ. John's gospel chapters 14-17, are a great antidote to the fears generated from just living life. We need always to remember we have been created by Love for a life to be lived in freedom, not cowering in a corner out of fear.
We have a Good Shepherd, who states pretty bluntly that what has been given to Him will not be snatched out of His hand. With our desire to be in lasting relationship with Him we will we guided safely the many, many, many dark valleys of our lives. We will not always know where we are being led. We do know by faith, there will never be a place where The Good Shepherd does not only have us in His sight, He has us wrapped up in His loving presence. Where ever He is, we are, wherever we are, he is. After all, it is all about the here and now. In this NOW moment, we are ever and always safe. Do we not ask Our Lady to pray for "now, and at the hour of our death"?
We have Jesus Christ as our brother. We have His Mother as our Mother. This tells us we are very well connected, both put the devil in his place. Let us do the same, 'It is a family tradition". A tradition we will always be empowered to continue.