Discerning the Signs

Luke 12:54-59
Rom 7:18-25a / Psa 119

You understand the signs of the earth and the sky, but you don’t understand the present times.
(Luke 12:56)

If we read God’s Word all our days
We will learn to judge what is right
It will lead us in subtle ways
To discern God’s will with delight.

Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once: ‘Rain is coming,’ and so it happens. And when the wind blows from the south, you say: ‘It will be hot,’ and so it is. You hypocrites! You understand the signs of the earth and the sky, but you don’t understand the present times. And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? When you go with your accuser before the court, try to settle the case on the way, lest he drag you before the judge and the judge deliver you to the jailer, and the jailer throw you in prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last penny.” (Luke 12:54-59)


Some people say that the upheavals of nature that seem to visit our country with uncanny regularity may be signs that our Creator is telling us something. First we were battered by successive typhoons, more powerful than those in the past. Then came the floods laying waste productive farms and small businesses in their wake. Now this magnitude 7 earthquake, wrecking homes, establishments and churches. Are we not a prayerful Christian country? In fact we are the only predominantly Christian country in Asia, and even now spreading the faith through our missionaries and overseas contract workers.

Jesus is telling us in today’s Gospel that when we see the obvious signs happening in our times, then it should be time to act accordingly, to discern ‘what is right.’ What He was saying to the Jews then, (as what He is telling us now through these natural calamities) was for them to repent and change their ways, in the light of the many wondrous signs that He had been performing in their sight. The miracles that He performed were not the main purpose of His mission, but were merely signs meant to prove His divinity and lead sinners to their conversion. The natural disasters that are happening in our country are not signs of God’s wrath, but are meant to remind us of our vulnerability, and the need to call on God for our salvation, both in this life and in the next.

Early one morning, one of our sisters finally succumbed to the inevitable, after her long battle with the big “C”. She was the fourth victim claimed by this modern-day scourge among our friends and acquaintances within a period of one month. As we reflect on today’s Gospel passage, what does this “sign” tell us of “the present times”? It is simply this: that our life here on earth is so fleeting that we do not have the luxury of taking our sweet time to put our life in order, and settle our ‘debts’ with God and neighbor. They say that those who are stricken with cancer are more fortunate than people who die from stroke, heart attack or accidents. They are given more time “to settle their case on the way to the Judge and the Jailer”. But why do we have to procrastinate until the final hour before we begin to prepare for the ultimate journey? When it comes to the ultimate hour, time is not on our side.

Father in heaven, grant me the grace to discern the more important things in life that we should be concerned about, like purifying my heart and mind by receiving You more often in the Holy Eucharist of the mass, by seeking guidance in Your Holy Scriptures whenever confronted by signs that I fail to understand, and by committing myself totally to whatever ministry is entrusted to me in my community. All these I pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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