“SIGNS, SIGNS, EVERYWHERE THE SIGNS”
Saint Luke 21. 25-36
Populus Zion: 8 December Anno Domini 2013
Father Jay Watson SSP
In The Name + of Jesus
If our Lord’s dire and stark astronomical predictions were but ONLY portents of the Eschaton, the end of all things, it would all still be true, but a bit hollow. For you disciples know that He will come again as a thief in the night—like a tornado that is suddenly upon your house in the middle of a 3am dark night—no sight—no warning—just NOW! As the lightning flashes from east to west in a “snap” (or crackle) so too will the Trump sound and Christ will be in the sky with His Legions of Sabaoth! And yet, The Lord wants His brethren to be on guard, alert, and anticipating His imminent return with loyal sobriety and repentant faithfulness. Repent and believe!
Yes there will be, there were, and there ARE, “signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars.” Christ is not really giving His flock Jack Horkheimer Star-Gazing instructions nor is He counseling astrology. This is more parable-like and figurative language pointing to His own intervention in history and the salvation activity He has worked for all of His people: both Jew and Gentile.
At the time of the Exodus, the pre-eminent Salvation act in the Old Testament, the plague of darkness which struck Egypt blotted out the sun, moon and stars while the camp of the Hebrew children (with Moses in the midst as Prophet, Priest and King type) had light. The same Lord, the pre-incarnate “Angel of the Lord” Who led and followed the Hebrews out of bondage across their Baptism in God’s cloud at the Red Sea, worked as a protective re-reguard confusing the pursuing Egyptians with darkness and blindness.
And no one can gainsay the travails in the sun, moon and stars at the utter destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the year 597 B.C. The Lord’s Temple and Holy of Holies—the Sun to His people, was blotted out in the darkness of heathen uncleanness. The 400 years from Malachi until the Advent of Saint John Baptizer was a darkness when all the stars (the prophesying evangelists, or the evangelizing prophets) were clouded over in silence.
Your Lord’s Words apply to His reappearing at the Second and Final Advent…but, by then, you should all be looking at His glorified and beatific Face and not at fading meteorological and socio-political detritus.
But what of the THEN, Christ’s own day and the immediate days following His Paschal Mystery and vicarious Atonement? But what of the Now, what of the now of the New Testament Church’s life IN CHRIST?
At this very moment, 2013, don’t the nations still rage against the Christ and His Church…even as they did during the persecutions of Stephen, James the Elder, the Roman martyr’s, and all of the others in the catacombs and Forum? The sea of unbelief and the waves roaring against the Truth and the Particularity of the Truth remain unabated and unbridled. The Gospel is hated by Satan and his spawn of pagans wherever and whenever it is preached and presented.
There was great fear when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, and later when the Barbarian hordes over-ran Rome in the 5th century. There is fear in your hearts right now for your families and your friends; for you communities and your nation; for your way of life and your Church.
But where were the powers of heaven seemingly shaken, where was the sun temporarily darkened, and where did even the hearts of the Blessed Virgin and the Apostolic Band seem forever shaken and failed? At the Cross of your Lord, at Calvary, where He suffered, bled, and died for your sins, for not just your fearful and weak heart but for your perverted and shriveled sinful heart! When Jesus hung His sacred head, now wounded, the signs of all the Law, Prophets, and Psalms were fulfilled—the sun was blackened, the moon—the perfect reflection of the sun was blood red, splattered from His hands, feet, and pierced side, and the stars, the future Evangelists, were cowering, hiding, or absent from the firmament of faith. Yes the powers of heaven, in the earthly life of the God/Man, were shaken. Jesus died and was buried. God died for man.
But Easter follows Good Friday. The Resurrection follows the Crucifixion. And following your Baptisms is still the life-under-the-cross. Those at the foot of the Crucifix only later fully understood, what you understand now, that in the Face of the Suffering Servant, in the Body given and the Blood shed, was God’s great power and glory. Like the grain of wheat, or corn, or even fig, must first die and fall to, and into, the ground to grow up and burst forth alive again from the earth, so too the Son of Man hung suspended on Calvary to prepare for both His Ascension to Power, and His imminent arrival in Majesty. The unbelieving Jews, and all unbelievers ever since, demanded a sign. The Lord told them and all others that the only sign would be the sign of Jonas: The God/Man in the belly of death three days. The Apostle preaches the only sign that matters—the sign of The Cross; the Crucifix. As the Sun performed a miracle in Joshua’s battle against the Philistines, so too the true Joshua—the true Son, performed your redemption in the battle against Satan, sin, and death. You have this eternally living sign in the sign of the + font, the sign of + absolution, and the sign of the supper which is no mere normal meal, but a sacramental communion with the Signee Himself!
Today, 8 December Anno Domini 2013, you see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Whether in actual cloud of salutary incense, or spiritual cloud of Eucharistic prayers ascending, the Christ comes in Words of absolution and in His precious Body and Blood. Lift up your heads, tilt back your chins, and open your mouths, for the Lord of Glory, FORGIVENESS and PEACE, enters. Your Redemption draweth nigh and is placed on your tongues.
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost