“You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time” (Lk 12:56).
Reading this verse brought two memories from my childhood. The first one is from when my friend Steve and I as kids were interested in reading the natural signs and weather patterns, and we enjoyed watching our local weatherman, Hilton Kaderli, forecasting the weather each night. Another memory was with my cousin Danny. We were at my Uncle Pierre and Aunt Claudette’s house one afternoon and we saw a storm rising. We headed to the road and started running as fast as we could in the opposite direction to see how far we could get before the storm caught us, and when it did we walked home, sucking in air, being pelted by the rain, and enjoyed a good soaking. Steve, Danny, and I read the signs of the earth and the sky, but we didn’t pay all that much attention to the things of the spirit at that time.
Not only through his teachings, but also through his public actions, Jesus revealed some powerful signs that God was in their midst. Jesus taught and preached on his own authority, he cast out demons, forgave sins, healed people, met and ate with sinners and women. These were amazing signs that the Messiah came to dwell among them, yet some did not or would not see, rationalized away that he could not be who he showed himself to be.
Some did see and believe and some two thousand years later because of their faithfulness, Jesus speaks to us again today. The stories and encounters of Jesus have been preserved, passed on generation after generation. They are not just a dead letter, nor is the sacred deposit of our faith some inanimate object passed on blindly generation after generation. We are invited time and again to be aware, to look for how Jesus still works in our lives today.
Do we see coincidences or God-incidents? Do we see God’s presence working in our lives? If not, could it be because our lives are so busy and fast-paced? If so, we need to schedule some time each day to stop and reflect, even if for only five to ten minutes to take some deep breaths, and ask God to help us review the past twenty-four hours with the express purpose of noticing how he has been involved and engaged in our lives.
It is often by reflecting and looking back over the course of a day, a week, or a month, that we will recall some God-incidents no matter how small. Being thankful for this growing awareness and asking God for greater insight each day will help us to grow in our awareness of how much he has been accompanying us all along in our daily experiences.
For those times that we have refused or failed to recognize this closeness to Jesus, especially in his presence coming to us through others seeking our help, we can ask for forgiveness and for Jesus to assist us in being more aware and more intentional in following the stirring of the Holy Spirit going forward. Opening our hearts and minds to God will help us to better read the signs that the kingdom of heaven is indeed at hand, in our very midst. Do we have eyes to see and ears to hear?
A moment of rest, enjoying family time and God’s creation, Christmas 2010 – Photo credit: Jack McKee