29 And he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 as soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Meditation: Do you recognize the signs of God's presence
and action in your life and the world today? Jesus used
the image of a fig tree to teach his disciples an important lesson
about reading the "signs of the times." The fig tree was a common
and important source of food for the Jews. It bore fruit twice a
year, in the autumn and in the early spring. The Talmud (teachings
and commentaries of the ancient rabbis on the Jewish Scriptures)
said that the first fruit came the day after Passover. The Jews
believed that when the Messiah came he would usher in the kingdom
of God at Passover time.
Let the fruit of God's kingdom grow within you
The early signs of a changing season, such as springtime, summer, or autumn, are evident for all who can see and observe the changes. Just so are the signs of God's kingdom and his return in glory on the day of judgment. The "budding" of God's kingdom begins first in the hearts of those who are receptive to God's word. Those who trust in God's word will bear the fruits of his kingdom. And what are the fruits of that kingdom? "The kingdom of God ..is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). The Lord gives the first-fruits of his kingdom to those who open their hearts to him with expectant faith and trust in his word.
We do not know the day nor the hour when the Lord Jesus will return again in glory. But the Lord does give us signs, not only to "wake us up" as a warning, but also to "rouse our spirits" to be ready and eager to receive his kingdom when he comes in all his power and glory. The "Day of the Lord" will strike terror in those who have ignored or rejected God, but it will be a day of joy and rejoicing for those who long to see the Lord face-to-face. The Lord Jesus wants us to be filled with joyful anticipation for his coming again.
The Lord opens the word for us - listen and respond
While we wait for the Lord's physical return in glory, we can know his presence with us through the work and action of the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts. The Lord Jesus comes daily and frequently to those who long for him and he speaks tenderly to our hearts like a lover who whispers in the ear of the beloved. He comes to show us the way to our heavenly Father and to give us the hope of eternal life. Do you recognize his presence and do you listen to his word?
49 Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction that your promise gives me life.
51 Godless men utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.
52 When I think of your ordinances from of old, I take comfort, O LORD.
53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.
54 Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.
55 I remember your name in the night, O LORD, and keep your law.
56 This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: My words will not pass away, by an anonymous early author from the early Greek fathers
"'This generation' refers both to those who
suffer temptation and to those who cause it. It refers to sinners
among men and to the demons who are at work in them. For neither
group will cease being in the world until its consummation. For
Christ said, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire
prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matthew 25:41). Moreover,
it is necessary that the source of temptation be preserved as long
as there is faith which needs testing. It is also possible,
however, that 'this generation' refers to those mortal Christians
who would not pass over into eternal life and be made immortal and
impassible 'until' all the events about which Christ was speaking
had taken place.
"'Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away' because heaven and earth were created to serve you, but my words were uttered to govern you. Both heaven and earth are subject to vanity, as the apostle said, 'Creation is subject to vanity' (Romans 8:20). Truth, however, is by nature unable to deceive and can never die." (excerpt from INCOMPLETE WORK ON MATTHEW, HOMILY 49, the Greek fathers).