The Signs of the Times

Luke 12:54-59
Eph 4:1-6/ Ps 24: 1-6

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

If we read the Bible all our days
We will learn to discern what is right
The Spirit will grant us the grace
To discern the “signs in our life.”

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)


Throughout Chapter 12 of his Gospel, St. Luke relates how our Lord gave warnings and encouragements in His teachings. He told the crowds to beware the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, but at the same time assuring them that all mysteries in life would be revealed (12:1-2). He told them that they should fear God alone, Who “has the power to throw you into hell” (12:5), but not to be afraid, because “you are worth more than many sparrows” (12:7). He warns them never to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, but not to be anxious when they have to defend themselves, because “the Holy Spirit will teach you what to say” (12:10,12). He warned His listeners to be on guard against the sin of avarice (15), but assures them that there is nothing to be too concerned about in this life, because the Father already knows what we need. “If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will He not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?” (12:28) As a final warning, Jesus told them to be vigilant and be prepared for the coming trials and tribulations, as He Himself had come “to set the world on fire” (49). He cautioned them (and us) to be discerning of the times, to use our better judgment, lest we fall into the power of our enemy, which is no other than the devil (58).

When we see the obvious signs happening around us, then it should be time to act accordingly, to discern ‘what is right.’ What He was saying to the Jews then 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. St. Paul echoed this in the first reading in his letter to the church in Ephesus: “Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph.4:1-3). What does this Gospel passage 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 those who die from stroke, heart attack or accidents. They are given more time “to settle the case on the way” to the Judge and the Jailer. But why do we have to wait until the final hour before we begin to prepare for the ultimate journey?

Father in heaven, grant us the grace to discern the more important things in life that we should be concerned about, like purifying our hearts and minds by receiving You more often in the Holy Eucharist, by seeking guidance in Your Word whenever confronted by signs that we fail to understand, and by committing ourselves totally to whatever ministry is entrusted to us in our community. Amen.

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