I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people." (When it says, "He ascended,"; what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.)
The Lord's is the earth and its fullness,
the world and all its peoples.
It is he who set it on the seas;
on the waters he made it firm. (R./)
Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who shall stand in his holy place?
The man with clean hands and pure heart,
who desires not worthless things. (R./)
He shall receive blessings from the Lord
and reward from the God who saves him.
Such are the men who seek him,
seek the face of the God of Jacob. (R./)
Jesus said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, 'It is going to rain'; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, 'There will be scorching heat'; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
"And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. I ell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny."
In symbolic language, Jesus shows how we must seize the offer of salvation that comes to us in the here and now. Some important chances do not come a second time, when failure to act would mean losing the opportunity. Some graces belong to the "day" and the "hour," the "proper time", the "kairos," a favourite biblical term. Kairos is not just a moment like any other in time (for which the Greeks used the word chronos) but a very special moment with tremendous implications. The moment must be seized and promptly, for the sake of charity, conversion, and fidelity. The stakes are high, and not to decide is itself a negative decision.
Under the genial leadership of pope Francis, this time can be a Kairos for us, individually, and for the universal Church. We and our episcopal leaders are to act for God with the same energy as we seek practical decisions to further the Christian faith in our time. The natural virtues of prudence and courage must be put to the service of the religious activity, the body is at the service of the soul.
We often talk about the weather in Ireland. We find it a useful thing to talk about when we have nothing much else to say. Because our weather comes in from the Atlantic it is so changeable that there is always something to say about it. It has either been raining or is raining or will be raining before long. Even when it doesn't rain for days we consider it worthy of comment.
In today's gospel, Jesus suggests that his contemporaries sometimes talked about the weather too. They knew what weather was coming from the direction of the wind; they were able to read the face of the earth and the sky. How disappointing that they were not able to read the times they were living in. They failed to recognize from what Jesus was saying and doing that God was moving among them in a special way.
We too can be very aware of the ways of the weather but not so aware of the ways that the Lord is present to us and moving among us. Jesus promised us that he would be with us always until the end of time. The signs of his presence can be subtle and non-dramatic, but nonetheless, very real. We pray this morning for the eyes to see the ways the Lord is present to us, especially in and through those whom we meet in the course of our day.