Some of these texts can be quite frightening if taken literally! Doomsayers love to frighten people, whether on late-night TV or in bestseller novels. Sometimes we forget that we are people of light.
The writer of Matthew’s gospel was writing for the small community of believers shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem. Jewish Christians often clashed with Gentile Christians. Life was hard. Matthew writes to encourage these earliest followers of Jesus to live as if the Lord were to come at any moment. He was encouraging these beleaguered followers to live as faithful people, even in chaotic times and when despair was close at hand.
So how then are we to live?
Martin Luther once said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” Luther was right. We worship a God of life. Choose life and trust. The gospel writer reminds us that Noah, when he stepped into the ark with his loved ones, did not know where the journey would take them.
To choose life in our 21st century, to be faithful people even in chaotic times, may look different than in Noah’s day. Perhaps today Mother Earth is challenging us to plant more apple trees and to heal what we have destroyed.
May I always choose what is life-giving and bring healing where I can. Amen. — MW