“Learn from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender, sprouting leaves, you know summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.”
Jesus presents two pictures, one of darkness, and one of light. Those seeing forest fires know how the sun becomes dark and the moon does not give light. When the Romans came to punish those not paying taxes, cites burn like forest fires. Smoke envelopes everything. The sun was dark; the moon did not give light, and the stars, the rocks thrown by the Roman scorpions fell from the sky. In the second picture, Jesus explains how the ecosystems of our planet will start to recover. Plants will start growing again; sheep will start eating, and reproducing, again, and things will recover. Our planet is a vibrant planet.
“This generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Jesus predicts the coming of Rome 70 Anno Domino. If Jesus spoke these words in 30 Anno Domino, 40 years elapsed between his speaking these words and their fulfillment. We are now 40 days away from Christmas. The people of Jesus’ time watched as Jerusalem burned. We watch as those who do not agree with us burn our nostalgic world. The coming of Christ brings the end of our nostalgic world and the beginning of God’s ideal world, if we are ready for the change coming with that fig tree.
“They will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ עננא; He will send out the angels/messengers to gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.” The Didache speaks to this in its two Eucharistic blessings. Chapter 9, “Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom….” Chapter 10, “Remember, Kyrie, Your Church, deliver it from all rot and make it Shalom in your love. Gather it from the four winds, dedicated to your kingdom which you prepared for it….”
These passages speak to the Christian diaspora of year 70. The sun became dark, and the moon disappeared over the smoke clouds. Now, post year 70, through the Eucharist, God is gathering his church into one. The Hebrew word for suffering and the poor is ענ and for cloud is עננא. God comes with the poor, those who suffered, to create a grand new world. Keep up hope; Christ comes. At Christmas, he comes to bring Peace in Love. Our choice? Are we a part of this, or of the forces of discord bringing destruction to our world?