Confidence in Crisis Moments

In moments of crisis and near hopelessness, we are encouraged to keep hoping. Why? We have a God who cares. He has a way of intervening to rescue His people even when there seems to be no other way. So, if you are in the throes of hardship, frustration, inner crisis, conflict, pain, or sickness that refuses to go, never give up. God still cares for you. Remain attached to Him. This is the great message of this day’s liturgical readings. As the Church’s liturgical calendar winds to a close, the readings remind us of the last times and the required frame of mind to face the attendant challenges.

Standing Firm in the Face of Death’s Force

The first reading of today tells the famous story of Daniel in the lions’ den. But why did the ferocious lions refuse to devour Daniel? Why then did they devour the enemies of Daniel? If one understands Daniel as representing all who put their trust in God, every other thing falls into place. The story encourages God’s people to remain faithful and trustful in moments of crisis and persecution. In our daily life experiences, we are often confronted with forces which expose us to ferocious lions whose only business is to destroy and annihilate. How do we escape? We often face death dealing forces and ideologies that threaten us to abandon our faith and cherished moral values. In such moments, we are called upon never to compromise. The Gospel text from Luke 21:20-28 urges us to stand erect and hold our heads high because such trying moments also signal moments of liberation.

God Gives His People Strength

One recalls here the highly inspirational Catholic song, “God Gives His People Strength”. The song was written by an American Medical Religious Sister, Miriam Therese Winter, who was born in 1938 and became both a theologian and composer. The song reminds us with sweet melody that God gives us strength to carry the burdens of the day. One of the most beautiful stanzas reads: “God gives His people peace. When sorrow fills us to the brim, and courage grows dim, he lays to rest our restlessness in Him. God gives His people peace.”

These words came ringing in my head as I read the words of Jesus in the Gospel of today: “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamor of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand” (Luke 21:25-28).

These words depict in both metaphor and reality the catastrophic events that often incline us to fear and tremble. The point may not necessarily be whether such events are already present or in the future, but what matters is our attitude or response to such events. The text makes it clear that even in the midst of the greatest disasters, a liberator figure is there in the clouds for those who have inner eyes to see. In the midst of affliction and turbulence, God gives his people strength and hope. All we need to do is to strengthen our confidence in God just as Daniel did in the midst of dangerous forces. We need to stand erect, hold our heads high and look forward to joyful transformation rather than painful annihilation.

[Readings: Dn 6:12-28; Lk 21:20-28]

Fr. Luke Ijezie

Rev. Fr. Dr. Luke Emehiele Ijezie comes from Amucha in the Imo State of Nigeria. He is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Orlu, Nigeria, and ordained a priest on 24th September 1988. With a Licentiate and Doctorate in Sacred Scripture (SSL, Biblicum, Rome, 1995, STD, Gregorian University, Rome, 2005), he has since 2006 been a lecturer in Sacred Scripture and Biblical Languages at the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He is the national secretary of the Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN) and executive member of the Association of African Theologians (ATA), a member of various professional associations, among which are the Catholic Biblical Association of America (CBA) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). He is the author of numerous publications. Contact: Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt emehiele@yahoo.com

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