“Save The Date,” Recognize that refrigerator magnet? “Save the date,” is often the first step of announcing a wedding. The official invitation follows announcing what everyone already knows. “The end is near!” at least as far as the single life. Two people who had autonomous, independent lives have surrendered them for a marriage, the beginning of a new family. Something radically new is being born. We got a date!
Stewardship is the focus of these last two weekends of the Church year here at St. Mary’s. We are a generous community invested in the proclaiming of that amazing Kingdom referenced in the Scriptures for this Sunday. The reason for this generosity is God’s lavish investment in us.
The liturgy highlights the end times. I have never found the attraction to “end of the world” predictions. That is until I thought about them through the ‘Save the Date’ announcements. Every thing living has a shelf life. “End times” is really saying the obvious. Life’s passion and meaning comes from knowing that is has an end. And it is in God’s hands. I will no longer have to deal with the cancer that has afflicted my husband, or the depression that is ravaging my daughter, or the job that is sucking the life out of me, or the debts that are suffocating me. Even our sufferings have a shelf life. There is a wedding banquet after that beyond our imaginations.
The umbrella is a great image of God’s investment in our human story and ours in the church’s building of the reign of God. It is the sign of a papal Basilica. We hold it over the pope when he visits. It stands on the east side of the Altar in papal colors. But it is also a sign of what God does for us. He shelters us from the hot sun and deluges that are common to the Arizona desert. Deck umbrellas were donated for the front doors of our church in the hot months recently. They remind us that service to the poor, financial support of local church and full conscious and active worship makes all the difference in the world.
There is a wonderful old cartoon about the end of the world that shows a bearded ascetic with his warning sign, which says something like: “The End is ‘Not’ Coming!” You have to learn to cope with it… along with the rest of us!” Of course, part of the fun of the cartoon is the question of what exactly we have to cope with — is it the troubles of world? Or just other people?
St. Mary’s has always crafted an interesting slice of that amazing Kingdom God builds generation by generation across the earth. A great return on a fine investment!
A gentle week.
Fr. Michael Weldon, OFM
Adapted from Celebration’s 2016 reflection on this date by Ted Wolgamot.