AD SENSE

32nd Week, Friday, Nov 13

2 John 4-9 / Luke 17:26-37 

Birds are generally nice to look at. Whether they are flying or perched on a branch, most birds look beautiful. Except one species - the vultures. Short of saying that they are ugly, they look gruffy, like a bunch of uncombed feathers, they look a little hunched. Maybe when they are flying, they might look better. But if looks are not good, then their diet is revolting. Vultures are scavenging birds of prey. But they don't hunt. Rather they eat anything that is dead or rotting.


In today's gospel, Jesus mentioned about these birds when He says: Where the body is, there too the vultures gather. He was talking about the end times when the disciples interrupted Him and then He gave them this graphic image. Putting it simply and directly, vultures gather where there is death and the dead are left in the open, and they feed on the dead. But the vulture, as much as it may not be a pretty sight, but it is, at the same time, a symbol of God's judgement on evil. In the end, evil will be devoured by the vultures. Yet, we also need to take this as a warning sign. If we don't repent of our sins, then we are dying spiritually and waiting to be consumed by the vultures of God's judgement. So let us repent and do penance, and fly towards God with wings powered by love and good deeds.

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Today, in the Gospel text, the end times as well as the uncertainty of life is highlighted, not to frighten us, but to keep us fore-armed and focused, ready to meet our Creator. The sacrificial nature of the Gospel is seen in its Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as he leads us by example, to be ever ready to seek and do the Will of God. Constant vigilance and preparedness is the hallmark of the ardent disciple. We cannot just be like people who «ate and drank, they bought and sold, planted and built…» (Lk 17:28). We disciples must be ready and watchful, lest we be lulled into spiritual lethargy by the progress of life from one generation to the next and assume that Jesus won't return after all.

Secularism has taken strong roots in our society. The onslaught of innovation and ready availability of personal goods and services makes us feel self-sufficient and devoid of God’s presence in our lives. It is only when tragedy strikes that we are awakened from our slumber to look at God amidst our “vale of tears...”. And we must be thankful for these tragic moments, because they surely must serve to strengthen our faith.

In the recent months, the attacks on Christian in several parts of the world (including my very own country India), may have shaken our faith. But the Holy Father Francis says: «Christians are ultimately hopeful, however, because at the end, Jesus makes a promise that is a guarantee of victory: ‘Whoever gives his life will be born again’ (Lk 17:33)». This is a truth that we can rely on… The powerful witness of our brothers and sisters who lay down their lives for the faith and the witness to Christ shall not be in vain.

And so we labour onwards in the journey of our lives in the sincere hope of meeting our God «on the day the Son of Man is revealed» (Lk 17:30).

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Today is the Feast Day of St. Frances Cabrini, and she is a marvelous example of putting one’s faith and trust in the Lord. She had all the odds stacked against her. She was born two months premature in Italy in 1850, at a time when that usually did not mean survival. Out of the 13 children her parents had, she was one of only four who lived to adulthood. And she was frail the rest of her life – so frail and sickly that she was rejected from a religious order of nuns, so she went off by herself to serve people as she felt called. Her tenacious spirit of service gathered followers, and eventually she established her own faith community. She wanted to lead her sisters to be missionaries to China, but God had other plans. The pope asked her to serve the throngs of poor Italian immigrants in America, and in 1889 she emigrated to the U.S. with six sisters and they began their new work. Because one woman listened to the Spirit of God’s whispers in her heart, this patron saint of immigrants went on to found orphanages, schools and hospitals, 67 in all, in several U.S. cities as well as other countries. Mother Cabrini followed God’s promptings in her heart, seeking not to preserve her life but to lose it for love of God and neighbor. We can do the same.

What is common to today’s first and second readings is a spirit of alertness. The Lord may call us at any time, and the community may become divided over particular issues. We must be seriously attentive to the word of God and conscious of the importance of retaining the unity of the community of faith.

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Let us pray: Our saving God, we are your people on the march who try to carry out the task of giving shape to your kingdom of love and peace.  When we are discouraged and afraid or careless, keep us going forward in hope, make us vigilant in prayer, that we may see the signs of your Son’s coming.  Let Jesus walk with us already now on the road he has shown us, that he may lead us to you, our living God for ever and ever.