Hinge Moments in Our Lives
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 14, 2021
“Learn a lesson from the fig tree.
When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,
you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that he is near, at the very gates.”
(from Mark 13:24-32)
Our lives can change very quickly. Certain moments are “hinges”–periods of life where things change radically, and they often happen without much warning (think COVID). Yet, we can be prepared if we are able to read the signs of the times. Jesus warns us in this Sunday’s gospel that the end of the world will catch many people by surprise, and one might add that the end of our own present age may pass just as quickly. There will be signs for us from God! But will we recognize them?
Jesus uses the example of a fig tree. When I lived in San Diego, California, the neighbor next door had a big fig tree planted next to my porch. One night I was sitting on the patio, when I had the distinct feeling that I was being watched. I quickly turned out the porch light, went inside, got a flashlight, and shined it into the fig tree. Imagine my shock to find about 10 pairs of eyes staring back at me. A family of raccoons had found an easy meal, and my neighbor had no figs to eat that year. I might add that in the following year he learned how to protect his figs!
It is ironic that these wild animals could read the signs of the times (the time that the figs were almost ripe) before the owner of the tree realized his figs were ready to eat. Might God be using signs like these in your everyday life to speak to you about coming events? Has the Lord given you a sign like this that you might have missed?
Jesus would tell us to be prepared! If we have learned nothing else in the last two years, it is that life can change in an instant, and we have to be ready. What would you do if the electricity went out for three weeks? Many are better prepared for this after last year’s ice storm, but more to the point, if this were the last day of your life, would you be ready to meet the Lord? Hinge moments, in both world history and in our own lives, can come at any time. The world around us may seem unsettled. But a regular prayer life, weekly (or daily) Mass attendance, paying attention on the effect we are having on others and how we treat them, by our selflessness, and by asking the Holy Spirit to help us read the signs of the times, the Lord will help us be ready for whatever comes.