Like the Buds of Spring

Luke 21: 29-33
Dan 7:2-14 / Dan 3:75-81

Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near.
(Luke 21: 29-30)

End times will come, there’s no denying,
Or the destruction death will bring;
After the winter of life’s passing,
Comes the eternal buds of spring.

Then Jesus told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves, you know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Luke 21:29-33)

Reflection

Chapter 21 of Luke’s Gospel contains some of the most difficult prophecies that our Lord was imparting to the Jews of His generation, as well as for future generations of Christians to ponder and understand. To be sure, the earlier parts of the chapter, which predicted the destruction of the temple (verses 5 – 6), the coming persecution of the early Church (verses 12 -19), and the ultimate fall of Jerusalem to the gentiles (verses 20–24), were all fulfilled when the Romans, during the reign of Emperor Vespasian, invaded and destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70. These events are similarly depicted in the other synoptic gospels. What throws us off the track are His words in the same chapter: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright . . . the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Lk.21:25-27). This prophecy of eschatological times seems to be more for our benefit than for Jews at that time.

Jesus was simply emphasizing that all of God’s promises and their fulfillment would be fulfilled. In fact, Holy Scriptures is all about God’s Covenant with man, a contract that man continually fails to fulfill, and God, in His great mercy, continuously reinstates. From the time of Adam, when the Creator promised a Redeemer, to the covenants He made with Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and the prophets, until the final blood compact on the cross in Calvary, God in His infinite compassion has given man all the means to save his soul.

But everything has a limit, and God is also a God of Justice. As He has promised in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “a terrible calamity will come upon the earth and a wrathful judgment upon this people” (Lk.21:23). Woe to those who are not prepared when God’s promised judgment day suddenly arrives.

Jesus cited the lesson of the fig tree to assure us that whatever may happen at any time in our lives, He guarantees that we will know beforehand, as certain as we know the changing of the seasons by the signs that nature shows us. He further assures us that in the midst of change and transformation through the passage of time, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Lk. 21:33) As His followers, as long as we remain steadfast in our faith, and hold firm to the Gospel in our lives, we need not fear our destruction, for after the winter of death will surely come bursting forth the eternal buds of spring.

Through the passing of the seasons, change comes inevitably. Only Your Word can make us steadfast, Lord, and be prepared for the coming of Your kingdom. Amen.

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