Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36
“Personally I’m quite jovial with not much worry. I do my best, which is moderation, and failure doesn’t matter.” – Dalai Lama
Worry is the antithesis of Advent. Advent yearns and hopes with joyful anticipation. Worry agonizes over the unknown future. Both look to the future. Worry looks neurotically, fearfully. Today’s Gospel has mistakenly been used to predict the end of the world. But that is not its purpose. Its intention is consolation in times of suffering, consolation at those times that cause us to fret and lose sleep. It speaks of nations perplexed, dismayed, and bewildered (Luke 21:25). (see Greek below) There has never been a time when this has not been true. Our own baffled times are not unique. Yet we worry. What will the future bring? This Gospel is not talking about the end of the world, but what to do in the mean time, our own personal and communal time of turmoil. Jesus tells us what not to do (Luke 21:34). Don’t let our hearts be weighted down with dissipation. OK, good advice! Also don’t be involved in drunkenness. Again, good advice! Jesus’ third warning is more serious than the other two. Don’t let our hearts be weighted down by the worries of daily life. What do we worry about? Finances? What are our children doing? Sickness? Our acceptance? The world at war? The earth polluted? There is no end of things to agonize about. But Jesus knew that worry would weight our hearts down. And it does. It saps our joy. Not to worry does not mean we are not proactive. Actually worry diminishes our ability to solve problems. We want to look to the future, but with hope and joyful anticipation. Jesus tells us to lean back and lift up our heads. (see Greek below) We are Advent people. We wait. This is not the end, no matter what our chaos. It is just the beginning.
The word used in the comment in Luke 21:25 about the nations in “distress” is variously translated confused, bewildered, perplexed. The root meaning of the Greek word is “not knowing what to do.” If we worry we might end up doing nothing. Worry paralyzes.
In look Luke 21:28 Jesus tells us, as rendered in most translations, to “stand up.” The literal Greek is much more picturesque. It says “bend yourself back” and lift up your heads.
Stars and sun perplexed.
Far so back leaned we look up.
See what comes, who comes.