Rv 20:1-4, 11-21:2; Ps 84:3-8; Lk 21:29-33
Saint Paul proclaims that in Christ we go from glory to glory. The Fathers of the Church have identified glory as the Holy Spirit. So to grow from glory to glory is to be transformed by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this is what the Responsorial Psalm is teaching us when we hear, “They go from strength to strength.” Who are they? They are the ones who dwell in the house of the LORD and continually praise him. Indeed, this is the source and fountain of all strength and glory. Psalm 84 teaches us that we are like the tiny and fragile mother sparrow, who finds a home in the temple of the LORD. In case we didn’t get the message, we are also like the small and vulnerable mother swallow, who builds a nest for her brood around the altar of the LORD. We are worth more than a flock of sparrows as the Lord Jesus explains, yet do we have the good sense of these little creatures? Do we have the wisdom necessary to find our home in the house of the LORD? Do we yearn for his courts? Do we pine for his sanctuary? Do we even give ear to the cries of our heart and our flesh? Do we acknowledge how much we need God? The Visionary Saint John of Patmos catches a fleeting glimpse of the holy city that is a beautiful bride. Do we catch such a glimpse in the mirror of God’s Word? While we consider sparrows and swallows, have we ever considered the fig tree and all the other trees? Do we glean the wisdom available all around us in the simple things of daily living? Perhaps we need to have a greater expectation of our liturgy and our lectio. Only then will we go from strength to strength.
Beloved Saint John shares with the church in every generation, a vision of the church yet to come. These prophetic words have been used to create fear and cause disunity in the church. Many so-called Millenarians have explained away the mystery of the future by giving a literal interpretation to this text from the Book of Revelation. They distinguish between the chosen few who will reign with Christ on this earth for a millennium. In this thousand years of perfection the church will be purified and enlightened, prepared for the end of things as we know them. However, such an interpretation tends to ignore other hints about our future that instruct us to be ready always because we know not the day nor the hour of the Lord’s return. This passage from the visions of Saint John are not a mathematical formula to figure out where we are in the unfolding of the mystery of the Kingdom here and yet to come. Rather, these startling visions and dramatic daydreams are given to sustain our hope in the midst of unrelenting persecution and unparalleled suffering. For those who have their names written in the book of life there is not fear about the future. We know who we are and whose we are. We are that holy city, the New Jerusalem. We are the bride adorned for her husband. We wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord and Savior, our King and Bridegroom.
Earlier in the Gospel of Saint Luke the Lord Jesus encountered a fig tree. He came upon this fig tree when he was hungry, and although it was not the season for figs, he cursed the tree for being barren. This action parable has the same message of today’s parable about the fig tree. We must always bear fruit, in season and out of season. We are that temple and city that has the living waters running through and on the banks of this river there are trees whose leaves are always green and who bear fruit twelve months of the year. In today’s gospel parable the Lord Jesus speaks to his disciples back then and his disciples today. The Lord Jesus wants us to learn from the things we see happening. He wants us to know that the Kingdom of God is near. Indeed, our generation will not pass away until all these signs have taken place. We are to have this precise urgency about the coming of the Lord of Glory. The divine gardener has come and found the fig tree barren; he promises the owner of the garden that he will dig around and fertalize the soil so that it may bear fruit. The Lord Jesus provides all we need to satisfy those who seek fruit on our branches. We know full well that heaven and earth as we know them will pass away, but the words of the Lord Jesus will not pass away. Indeed, we will hear his voice clearly and powerfully, “Come here!” and “Out of my sight!”