The Responsorial Psalm pledges: “The Lord will guard us, like a shepherd guarding his flock” (Jeremiah 31: 10-13).
We tend to look only at what is happening in our time. The Scriptures invite us to look at what is happening in God’s time, in which past, present and future are all one. We see time as a straight line: the past is behind us, the future ahead, and only the present actually exists. God sees time as a circle: everything is present to him at once.
In Zechariah 2: 5-15 God invites the Jews to look at the Jerusalem he sees: a prosperous city with a rebuilt temple, in the midst of which God dwells, attracting “many nations” to himself.
Christians are offered this same vision in Revelation 21: 1-6:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away….”
…Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”
We celebrate this in the Communion Rite of every Mass. From the Our Father on, our focus is eschatological: looking forward to the “end time.” We pray “for the coming of the kingdom,” proclaiming it already present: “For the kingdom the power and the glory are yours now” and will last forever. We “wait in joyful hope” for his coming in glory. We look forward to the “peace and unity” his reign will bring to earth, and give the “sign of peace” to each other and to the whole human race in anticipation of it. Finally, we proclaim that Jesus, as “Lamb of God” has taken away the sins of the world, and we raise our defiant shout in the face of every persecution, threat, and death itself: “Happy are those who are invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9). Happy are those who are going to die! “The Lord will guard us, like a shepherd guarding his flock.” He will “turn our mourning into joy.”
In Luke 9: 43-45 Jesus’ disciples cannot bring themselves to live in this future time. They are fixated on his coming death; his future resurrection is not real to them. They can’t look forward to “the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). Jesus says to them and to us, who are caught up in the weakness and failures of the Church in our time, “Take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33).
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Take courage and work for change.