Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time – Year B

Posté par diaconos le 22 octobre 2021

Luke 12:56 | Discernment, Luke 12, Daily reflection

# The question of the signs of the times (in Latin signa temporum) is a theme that emerged in the Catholic Church from the 1940s onwards and has been strongly emphasised since the Second Vatican Council. According to the theologian Karl Rahner, it is « one of the three or four most significant formulas of the Council, at the heart of its approaches as well as at the initiative of its inspiration ». Elisabeth Lacelle considers that this formula marks the « opening of the Church’s conscience to its historical dimension of dialogue with the world ».

The expression appeared in certain French theological circles2 ; it is explicitly used at the time of the Council in the constitution Gaudium et Spes which, in Article 4, affirms that « the Church has the duty at all times to scrutinise the signs of the times and to interpret them in the light of the Gospel, so that she may respond, in a manner appropriate to each generation, to the eternal questions of men about the meaning of the present and future life and about their mutual relations ».

However, several authors attribute to John XXIII the introduction of the theme of the signs of the times in the Magisterium, before the drafting of the conciliar texts. Thus, in his encyclical Pacem in terris, he uses the notion without naming it, to the point that all translations use it in the intertitles2. According to the theologian Martin Maier, the main signs noted by John XXIII are « socialisation, the promotion of the working classes, the entry of women into public life and the emancipation of colonised peoples ».

For Maier, the theology of the signs of the times marks the overcoming of a vision of the Church whose task is limited to guarding the deposit of faith, and of a vision of history marked by a clear cut between « secular history » and « salvation history ». For André Beauchamp, a Canadian priest and ecologist, environmental issues, the fate of creation and the current state of « our common home » are the strongest sign of the times. For Jean Bastaire, ecology is also a sign of the times for the Church. In an article published in 2005 in response to Lynn White Jr’s 1967 accusation in the magazine Science, he shows that ecology prompts Christians to return to the sources of faith and to an emergence of the Spirit for new developments of salvation in Christ.

From the Gospel of Luke

54 Jesus also said to the crowds : « When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say that it will rain, and it does. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say that it will be hot, and it is. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky ; but this moment, why do you not know how to interpret it? 57 And why also do you not judge for yourselves what is right ?

58 So then, when you go with your adversary to the magistrate, while you are on the way do everything you can to make arrangements with him, so that he does not drag you before the judge, and the judge does not hand you over to the bailiff, and the bailiff does not throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you will not get out of there until you have paid every last cent. (Lk 12, 54-59)

Hypocrites, you know how to discern the appearance of the earth and the sky

Hypocrites, you know how to discern the appearance of earth and heaven; but how can you not discern this time ? (Lk 12, 56) This was an answer to the Pharisees who asked for a sign from heaven, and with this answer Jesus avoided the trap that was set for him. Such images recurred frequently in Jesus’ discourses. Jesus spoke of the divisions and struggles caused by the Gospel; where did they come from? Most people, skilled in discerning the appearance of heaven and earth, were blind to the importance of Jesus’ presence and the immense moral revolution he would bring about in the world. Jesus saw hypocrisy in this willful ignorance.

A small cloud rising over the sea seemed to them a sure sign of rain, and so it happens. On the contrary, the south wind, the simun, blowing from the desert, would infallibly bring scorching heat and drought. »57 « And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right ? (Lk 12, 57): this last accusation made even more striking the one that preceded and prepared the warning that Jesus gave.

In the spiritual realm, Jesus’ listeners should judge for themselves, without anyone having to show them the consequences to be drawn from these signs of the times. Their conscience should be enough to convince them of what was right, of what had to be done in the present danger: to repent of their sins and be reconciled with God. « I tell you, you shall not come out of there until you have paid every last penny » (Lk 12, 59) : this precept is not only a counsel of prudence to be applied in human relationships. In Luke’s Gospel, even more than in Matthew’s, it has the value of a parable intended to teach the necessity of reconciliation with God.

God is both the other party and the judge. All men have to deal with this other side, indeed, they are already on the way with it. What, then, should be the supreme concern of every guilty man? It is obviously to be free from the other side. Matthew, on the other hand, says: to agree with them. The fundamental idea is that of reconciliation, which can only be achieved through the forgiveness of sins. If this reconciliation does not take place before the guilty person appears before the judge, there remains only the inevitable punishment, prison. Will this condemned man ever be able to pay the last pite? Jesus remained silent on this point.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian websites

◊ Catholic for live : click here to read the paper → HOMILY FOR FRIDAY OF THE TWENTY-NINTH WEEK IN ORDINARY

◊ Catholic Culture : click here to read the paper →  Friday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time, year B

Homily: Friday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Image de prévisualisation YouTube.

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