Saturday, 12 November 2016

Do Not Weary Doing What is Right

Humans have a fascination – moth to flame like – with the end of the world. Think of the end of the world movies of the last twenty years or so. The end comes (or almost comes) by meteor, zombies, aliens, ecological breakdown, nuclear war, or biological pestilence. And this fascination is not a modern fascination alone. It has has been like this for thousands of years. And we have real, live apocalyptists doing their 'thing' even now through all manner of cults, messianic movements, political groups, etc. The Bolsheviks and Nazis were apocalyptic, secular cults. ISIS is their contemporary religious clone.

End-time fascination isn't restricted to the right of politics either. On the day of the US election I was watching FB and as the news came in that Donnie Trump was going to win the election FB was overwhelmed with 'the end of western civilisation if not the world' type foreboding and hand wringing from the progressive green/left. 

In the ancient world it was God who would bring the end through violence. That is one of the hallmarks of religious apocalyptic. But in today’s Gospel reading, which sounds apocalyptic because of the violence, the discourse of Jesus is shorn of its divine violence. It is human violence that Jesus is narrating. Terrifying as it is, he does not counsel joining a survivalist group. Instead, it sounds more like his disciples should keep on doing what he has already told them to do. Witness to Christ himself.

This is confirmed in our NT reading from 2Thessalonians. Those mentioned in the text as not working are likely to have given up the ordinary routines of life because they thought that Jesus was about to return and the End was coming. Paul admonishes them to return to their usual practices. And to the whole community he says that they should not weary in doing what is right. Everyday, even if in our imaginations it seems catastrophe beckons. 

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