Saturday, November 13, 2021

Jesus is our GPS System that never fails


 Jesus is our GPS System that never fails

This post is based on the readong for the Thirty-Third Sunday in ordinary Time, Year B:  Daniel 1-3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32


“In those days after the time of suffering the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

These words of Jesus are shocking. This would be a disaster. No one would want to witness such an event.

Why does Jesus use this language? Is he making a prediction of a future event? Is he forewarning us about the impact of climate change? While all these things may happen at some time in the future, the disaster Jesus is speaking about is quite  different.

For his disciples hearing that the sun and moon and stars will no longer function, they would be alarmed because these three celestial bodies, which form part of our universe, are their navigational tools. They would be lost without them. Travel on land or sea would be impossible.

If Jesus were speaking to us today in a language that would alarm us, he would say: In those days when the Global Positioning System or GPS is no longer functioning, because the satellites in the heavens have been disrupted.

You may not think loss of GPS would have any impact, but if this system failed, roads would be clogged with drivers slowing to peer at signs or stopping to consult maps. Information boards in airports and train stations would no longer report arrival and departure times. You may not recall this but in 2016 when one GPS satellite went offline for a fraction of a second, in parts of Canada and USA radio systems which police, fire and emergency medical systems rely on stopped functioning. For those impacted they felt like the universe was collapsing.

Our daily life is often no different. As Catholics we know as the gospel of John declares, Jesus is the way the truth and the life. This knowledge is intended to be our navigational tool guiding us in our life journey.

Despite this knowledge, however, there are days where our worries, concerns and problems distract us from Jesus’ guidance system or blocks the signals God is sending us to guide our way forward.

There is a wonderful passage in the book of Isaiah where the prophet states, when you are considering going to the right or left  - making a decision – pause and “listen for his voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ (Isaiah 30.1)

When Jesus concludes his remarks about the sun, moon and stars failing, he adds, “I will come in power and glory.” We might overlook this phrase, but what Jesus is saying, you are connected with me as your guide when you listen to the inner voice.

One of the best example of what I mean is found in the story Elie Weisel recalls in his book Night. When a child along with two adults were prepared to be hanged, one prisoner in the concentration camp shouted out “where is the mercy of God.”  After they were hung the whole camp were required to walk by the three bodies hanging from the scaffold. Weisel wrote: “The two men were no longer alive. . . But the  third rope was still moving: the child was too light, was still breathing . . And so he remained for more than half an hour.  . .Before me, I heard the same man asking: “For God’s sake. Where is God? And from within me, I heard an answer: “Where is He? This is where – hanging here from this gallows . . .” (Night p 64)

The difference between these two men is that Weisel found hope in the quiet voice that spoke within him. His situation didn’t change, but he knew he was not alone. Weisel’s faith reflects what psalm 16 promises: it is God who shows us the path of life and gives us the fullness of joy.

It is for this reason, after Jesus shocks his disciples  with the potential loss of their guidance system, he reveals to them a new GPS – God Positioning System – that is found not in external devices but within.

His words, I will come in the clouds, in power and glory, is a promise that when all seems to be lost, when hope is diminishing, when grief and worries dominate our thoughts, Jesus is with us. Yes, the clouds will remain but Jesus is there showing us the way forward.

We will know this if we take time to pause and listen to that inner voice of God saying, it is going to be okay for I am the only one that can navigate you in those times when people wonder, where is our merciful God?

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