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Raise Your Heads
Memorial of Saint Andrew Dũng-Lạc, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it, for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfillment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the times of the nations are fulfilled. There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, increase my faith, hope, and love for you, that I may stand boldly as a witness of your coming.
- Signs: The early Christian community lived in heartfelt anticipation of Jesus’ second coming. His warnings and promises gave them strength to face a multitude of life-threatening persecution and trials. But these signs that Jesus described could be for our day as well. Does this mean we have missed his coming? Or that he was mistaken about his second coming? At present, we live this reality in mystery. The signs are present, which call us to a certain readiness in the living of our faith.
- People Will Faint from Fear: According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 19% of the population (forty million people). Jesus mentioned that people would faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world. Fear and anxiety are often provoked by the anticipation and belief that bad things are to come, and that life does not hold the happiness and meaning one desires. While fear is a normal, basic, and necessary human emotion, it requires evaluation in the light of faith. Our worst-case scenario, when objectively viewed in the light of God’s providential plan, can turn out to be a reason for hope.
- Stand and Raise Your Heads: Jesus offers us a particular attitude we can take on in the face of the world’s chaos. “Stand and raise your heads.” The physical act of doing so can be a starting point for facing the daily trials that beset us. Furthermore, Jesus gives us an internal reason for doing so. “Your redemption is drawing near.” He reminds us that our rescue is at hand. Wherever there is “war”–things to be feared–we raise our heads and hold steadfast in faith, awaiting the ultimate rescue.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to give me courage amidst those things that I fear in daily life. Grant that I may hold up my head in faith and trust in your providence.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will recognize the moments when pessimism leads me to fear. I will stand up, raise my head, and make an act of faith and trust in your providential love.
For Further Reflection: Rescue by Lauren Daigle.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and “Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”