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"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Fr. Campbell, "Reading the Signs of the Times"

Reading the Signs of the Times
Fr. Campbell
The world is full of distractions, and those whose minds are distracted by the things of this world forget what life is all about. But if we wish to be ready for the Lord’s coming, we must think about what He told us, and be careful to observe the signs of the times. Jesus told us what happened to the foolish people who failed to listen to Noah’s warnings:

“For as in the days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day when Noe entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and swept them all away; even so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Mt.24:38,39).

That should be enough to wake us up! Our Lord continues:

“Watch therefore, for you do not know at what hour your Lord is to come. But of this be assured, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would certainly have watched, and not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready because at an hour that you do not expect, the Son of Man will come” (Mt.24:42-44).

There is nothing wrong with enjoying life, but our real purpose in this world is to prepare for the life to come. Our Lord admonishes:

“Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many mansions. Were it not so, I should have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and I will take you to myself; that where I am you may also be” (Jn.14:1-3).

But most of us are so busy with the things of this world that we can hardly spare a thought for Heaven. We say like the men in the Lord’s parable about Heaven, “I cannot come to the banquet”:

“And they all with one accord began to excuse themselves. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a farm, and I must go out and see it; I pray thee hold me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am on my way to try them; I pray thee hold me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come’” (Lk.14:18-20).

And the Lord finishes his parable with the words, “I tell you that none of those who were invited shall taste of my supper” (Lk.14:24).

How can we be so distracted from our true purpose? The answer is that we are being distracted by the devil, who is so envious of us that he will never rest until he sees every last one of us in Hell. But we have a serious purpose in this world. We are not here to waste our time, but to bear fruit worthy of eternal life. Consider what Jesus did to the fruitless fig tree:

“Now in the morning, on his way back to the city, he felt hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he came up to it, and found nothing on it but leaves; and he said to it, ‘May no fruit ever come from thee henceforth forever!’ And immediately the fig tree withered up” (Mt.21:18,19).  

We are treated like thoughtless children by the media. They have us believing that there is no real purpose to life except to enjoy it. The result is that we bear no fruit. We work for the goal of retirement, imagining ourselves on our own yacht, or enjoying the swaying palm trees on the beach. But it’s not Heaven! Instead we develop creaky joints or kidney stones. We fracture a leg or a hip, and we start forgetting things. The life we looked for becomes a vanishing dream.

If the TV and our iphone have become our teachers, we are kept in ignorance of the real purpose of life. We never grow up. Life is an endless succession of baseball games and Saturday Night Live. Our minds are given over to a worldly way of thinking, and we forget about Heaven.  

Our first responsibility now is to free ourselves from the false formation we receive from the media, so we can grow up before it’s too late. Otherwise we remain children, whether 35 years old, 50 years old, or 80 years old. If we think that there is no more to life than making money, having fun, and eating and drinking, we are ruined as human beings, worth nothing but to be bound up and thrown into the fires of Hell.  

“I am the vine, you are the branches,” says our Lord. “He who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he shall be cast outside as the branch and wither; and they shall gather them up and cast them into the fire, and they shall burn” (Jn.15:5,6).

Great human beings don’t let the pleasures of this world have such power over them that they don’t become what they were born to be, and are even now capable of becoming by the grace of God. Start growing up! Realize that the media are not our true teachers but are being used by the enemies of our souls to bring us to ruin. St. Paul tells us what God has provided to bring us to full maturity in Christ:

“And he himself gave some men as apostles, and some as prophets, others again as evangelists, and others as pastors and teachers, in order to perfect the saints for a work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the deep knowledge of the Son of God, to perfect manhood, to the measure of the fullness of Christ. And this he has done that we may be now no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine devised in the wickedness of men, in craftiness, according to the wiles of error. Rather are we to practice the truth in love, and so grow up in all things in him who is the head, Christ” (Eph.4:12-15).