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It might be the moment after you hear of the death of your mother or father. The rug is pulled out from beneath you. Or when, in seconds, your house is destroyed by a tornado or floods. Or, that moment when you go to the doctor and get a fatal diagnosis and are told you have three months left to live.

I still vividly remember when the twin towers collapsed on 9/11. I knew at that moment that not only my world but our world changed forever.

Some 140,000 people died instantly when atomic bombs were dropped on Japan in 1945. Over the past year, hurricanes, tornados, forest fires have cost over 175 Billion dollars of damage. The number has been rising over recent years. Today, most people are aware that we face the possibility of greater climate catastrophes.

We use the word “apocalyptic” to describe such catastrophic events.

But that is not what the word apocalypse meant in biblical terms. Then it meant to reveal something new. The Book of Daniel and today’s reading from the gospel of Mark stand in that tradition.

The goal of apocalyptic language, as used in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, is to shake people out of their reliance on their normal way of doing and undercut where we all operate on cruise control.

The language of apocalypse uses striking images that seem from science fiction – stars falling from the sky, the moon turning to blood. Suddenly you’re placed in an utterly different world. What you used to call “normal” doesn’t apply anymore.

Can’t you see I am doing something new?

I still remember as if it were today. It was at an Easter Vigil in the late 1960s. It was a time of great social turmoil not unlike today. Liz, an undergraduate student, forcefully proclaimed the passage from Isaiah. “Can’t you see I am doing something new?”

I sat up! I had “heard” the passage many times before. This time was different.

She looked out from the pulpit, seemingly into each of our eyes. It was not Liz we heard. It was Isaiah himself. In her passion I could hear the frustration of the prophet crying out “thus says the Lord…!”

 In the midst of the cultural and religious crisis of their Babylonian captivity, the prophet said, 

“Stop dwelling on past events and brooding over times gone by; I am doing something new; it’s springing up — can’t you see it? I am making a road in the desert, rivers in the wasteland. (Is 43:18-19)

Christ the King and Advent

With the next two Sundays, we will wrap up one liturgical year and begin a new one.

Next Sunday we will celebrate the end of times and the Kingdom of God with the feast of Christ the King.

The following Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, sets us once again on a journey to recognize at even deeper levels this new life with our God and our brothers and sisters. As we move through the seasons of Advent, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and the following Sundays hopefully we will see more clearly how God is with us now and in eternity.

Looking backward and forward

In this past year, how far have we come in understanding the wonder and implications of this new thing God is doing in our lives.  How have you grown this past year?

When we come to this point next year we will know it was a good year if we better understand and live this “new thing” Jesus is reorienting us to.

Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk

When your whole world changes
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