We can easily forget that every beginning finds its fullness in an ending, and every ending is the context for a new beginning. As Christians we believe this happens ultimately in Christ—the one who called himself the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
But how will we find our way forward when the usual lights that illumined our path no longer shine? What do we do when we feel our world (personal, ecclesial, societal, environmental) falling apart? Where do we go when it seems as if darkness is our only companion, and God is nowhere to be seen? The Gospel, indeed all salvation history, insists the dark times of life are threshold moments.
The temptation is to do something; to fix it, to ease the pain, to escape the uncertainty, and to get back to what used to be. But we can never go back to the way it was before the lights went out. God does not undo our life. God redeems our life. If we allow them, these dark threshold places of life can draw us more deeply into the divine mystery. They remind us that we do not know everything. We do not see all possibilities. We can neither predict nor control anything. We are not in charge. Jesus invites us to receive the God who comes to us in the darkness of life, even during personally cataclysmic change.
How? He says simply: “Learn a lesson from the fig tree.” Why the fig tree? The fig tree sheds all its leaves in winter. Its budding is a sign of the coming of summer. Jesus continues: “When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Son of Man is near, at the gates.” And so, Jesus reminds us that even out of utter destruction and appearance of death, symbolized by the leafless fig tree in winter, new life can blossom forth. So also when the darkness overtakes our life, know that the Son of Man is near. Christ’s constant “coming to us with great power and glory” in the Holy Spirit, our healing and salvation, always takes place in the dark and messy parts of life. We have not and never will be abandoned to the darkness!
Meditation by Father Dominic.