In today’s Gospel from St. Luke, Jesus uses the analogy of a fig tree to explain to his disciples that when they see certain things happening, they should “know that the Kingdom of God is near.” The signs to which Jesus refers (which we heard in yesterday’s Gospel) are terrible calamities, apocalypictic events, which cause great dismay among the people, signalling that the end is near and the Second Coming at hand.
But as I prayed with the words of this morning’s passage, they struck me in a different way, doubtless because I was reading today’s passage alone, thus not having before me the words that came before it in Luke. My first thought when I read “when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near,” was our task to make real the Kingdom of God here, our task as Christians to levening the world with God’s presence.
Read that way, the words sound like more of an indictment of us. “When you see these things happening…” When you look at the world around us, there are a lot of things that don’t make it look like “the Kingdom of God is near.” We’re still fighting each other in different parts of the world. We still haven’t learned to use the world’s resources in a sane way that will be sustainable in the future. We still have people dying unnecessarily because they lack (take your choice) clean water, enough food, basic medical care. If our job is to bring the world to Kingdom, it doesn’t seem to me like we’re doing all that good a job of it.
Advent begins in two days. This might be a time to recommit ourselves to making happen those things that will be a sign that the Kingdom of God is near.