THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES
The letter to the Ephesians insists on unity. Everything in our faith is a call for unity in Christ, as there is one Church, one Spirit, and one Father of all.
In its introduction, the Vatican II Constitution on the Church in the Modern World says: “The Church must continually examine the signs of the times and interpret them in the light of the gospel. Thus, she will be able to answer the questions that people are always asking about the meaning of this life and of the next and about the relation of this life and of the next and about the relation of one to the other, in a way adapted to each question.” By signs of the times we mean currents of thought and attitudes behind events, aspirations, and the like. Take the hippies, the Jesus movement, Pentecostalism, women’s lib, the hunger for liberation, the present #EndSARS protests hitting across Nigeria, the rebellion of many of the young against consumerism and hypocrisy. Can we discover points of contact and of openness to the values of the gospel?
Lord our God,
when today’s world hungers
for justice, truth and spiritual values,
perhaps disguised and distorted
in a form hard to recognize,
open our eyes and give us
your Spirit of wisdom and discernment.
May we thus learn to understand this world,
to feel at home in it,
and to discover the stepping-stones
that could lead us all to you
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
1 Reading: Ephesians 4:1-6
Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace; one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Responsorial Psalm PS 24:1-2, 3-4AB, 5-6
R. (cf. 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers. R.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain. R.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his saviour.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob. R.
Alleluia Matthew 11:25
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Luke 12:54-59
Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain–and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time? “Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
The call to unity in Ephesians is one of its most stirring passages. The unity will find expression in a bond of peace. A hostile or divided Christian community flies in the face of our basic affirmations. We have been baptized into the one body of Christ, under the headship of the one Lord. There is only one baptism, one faith that we profess, and one God and Father of us all.
The ecumenical efforts of the church today are of paramount importance. A divided Christianity is a sin and a scandal. It clearly stands in opposition to the expressed will of Christ. We should take seriously the summons we have received, especially from the Second Vatican Council, to work and pray together with other Christians and to be supportive of important dialogue with other churches. With Christ we pray that they all may be one.
This is what it means to read the signs of the times, as the Gospel today exhorts us. Christian unity is not an optional idea.
Ecumenism should be a vital part of any pastoral work. It may take different forms, such as joint prayer services, or joint blessings of the palms on Palm Sunday. Ecumenism requires creativity and an open spirit.
– Lord, may the Church of today speak to the people of today the gospel in the language of today, we pray:
– Lord, let the ministers of the Church be familiar with the needs and aspirations of today’s world and people, we pray:
– Lord, make us transform a world of injustice into a world of integrity, a cold and indifferent world into a warm world of love and mercy, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
these gifts speak of life and care,
of growth and sharing.
Let them also speak to our hearts
of the self-giving love of Jesus your Son,
and commit us to the growth of his kingdom.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
you have called us again
through the body of your Son
to make the body of his Church more and more
the living sign of your presence
and of your action in this world.
Make us also receptive
of all the good there is in this world.
Help us to dialogue with our times
and with the people of today,
that this world may be yours
and you our God for ever. Amen!
If we want to be people living in our times, we must be open-eyed to what is going on in the world around us. “No one is an island.” No one should live in a world apart. This attitude will open our eyes too to understand our faith better. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!