Interpreting the Signs

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

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

Lead us Lord to acquire Your grace
And learn how to judge what is right;
Jesus, teach us in subtle ways
To discern Your signs in our life.

Jesus said, “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 know how to interpret 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 last penny” (Luke 12:54-59)


The absence of sophisticated typhoon-forecasting equipment would have left weathermen constantly at a loss in predicting the arrival of atmospheric tempests that periodically play havoc in the typhoon belts of our country. Once upon a time, forecasters were forced to rely only on signs in the sky, including the behavior of birds and other winged creatures. This situation might be laughable, but without an accurate weather forecast, those who lived in areas most likely to be affected by the approaching storms were unable to prepare for the worst, and were left at the mercy of the elements. The recent aftermath of the typhoon Karen has shown the incalculable losses in agricultural crops, much of which were ready for harvest. However, a bigger tragedy in the number of lives lost would have happened if our meteorologists had not been as prepared in tracking the landfall of the typhoon.

The gospel passages of the past three days were most telling if not chillingly prophetic. Last Tuesday, the Gospel of Luke talked about an abundant harvest and the lack of harvesters (Lk.10:1-9). Wednesday’s Gospel (Lk.12:39-48) talked about the virtue of being vigilant, and yesterday’s Gospel (Lk.12:49-53) was the most ominous, with our Lord talking about “setting the earth on fire”, and instead of peace, being the cause of division. So many homes were certainly rent asunder by the recent pair of tempests, and many families lost their homes and livelihoods. These recent events may be mere signs of more catastrophic times to come if we do not turn to God in prayer and mend our sinful ways.

Jesus is telling us in today’s Gospel that when we see the obvious signs happening around us, then it should be time to act accordingly, to discern ‘what is right’ in managing our fragile environment and in healing our relationships. What our Lord 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. In the same way, the devastating forces of nature may also be signs from heaven that we must repent and change our ways. Otherwise, it may be too late if we still “don’t know how to interpret the present times.”

Father God, You alone know when the end is near, and we are like lost sheep caught in a storm, unable to discern the signs of the times. Grant us the grace, dear Lord, to realize our sinfulness and the errors of our ways before it’s too late. Give us another chance to become the sheep of your pasture for whom Your Beloved Son gave His all to win, so that His pains and death will not have been in vain. In His Holy Name we pray. Amen.

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