Whether we read the Old or the New Testament, it’s so obviously the experience of the Jewish people, a very small, weak nation, tossed about among the kingdoms and empires of the ancient world. God doesn’t speak to us from thrones of kings or emperors, who placed their own statues on the altar of the Temple of Jerusalem. God’s voice isn’t issuing commands in their stentorian tones, but rather in the pleadings of the exiles, the disposessed. Even his own Son starts his earthly life as a migrant, as a book put it. Unsurprisingly the book hardly sold at all in our Shop. Not many migrants come here. There were just 3 a couple of weeks ago.
And when Jesus, and Paul in a big way, turns to the Gentiles, to the Pagans, it is exactly to the marginalised, the impoverished, lowly trades people at best, that he speaks.
Jesus’s message is a message of hope for the lowly, just as the Angel’s message was to the lowly handmaid.
Jesus speaks to us, today, with the language of the utmost urgency –
He emphasises URGENCY to such an extent that it is hard to believe what he says, 2000 years since he gave us warning.
Like the sandwich board men in Leicester Square, at the centre of London’s red light district, which proclaim in huge letters THE END IS NIGH.
Jesus’ own reading was of course the Old Testament, including Apocrypha, and so that’s the language he uses to his own hearers, the little crowds which gather round public speakers before the invention of mobile phones. Jesus speaks with the utmost urgency, because he really believes what he is saying. If we don’t pay attention in our own times, it’ll be like the people who heard Noah, and paid no attention, till suddenly the waters rose and they were all carrried away,
If WE don’t pay any attention to Jesus’s warnings and carry on without changing our ways, our greed, our selfishness, self centredness, we’ll all be destroyed, The signs of the END are plain for all to see.
The fact that it didn’t happen in Jesus’ own time, doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen.
How is it that Jesus, Son of God, was able to make these dire warnings, and they didn’t come to pass as he predicted ? It is puzzling. We struggle to understand Jesus’ own growth in self understanding. As Son of God, wasn’t he infallible ? What we see is Jesus’s self-understanding increasing from childhood on. God gives his own Son special gifts. His gift of compassion results in amazing healings. God’s gift to his son of foresight is also amazing. Jesus foresees that if the Jewish people went on their way, the Romans will come and destroy not only the Temple, the Holy Place, but scatter and almost destroy the whole Jewish people. God the Father gives his Son all these gifts but before the Resurrection, they are not supernatural. Jesus remains human throughout his life on earth, from start in the Manger to finish on the Cross. His gift of the use of language, which ordinary people could understand, and found absolutely compelling, moves them to change in amazing ways. It would be well if we too , listened, and heard, and changed our ways.