“Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching” – 2 Timothy 4:2
Urgent? Why be urgent if nothing serious is at stake?
The Gospel yesterday was profound. Jesus’ audience probably could not have imagined a worse “end” than being brutally and publicly executed by a pagan occupying force and your blood being used to commit such horrible sacrilege. And yet Jesus, after indicating that the Galileans who had suffered such a fate couldn’t be considered worse sinners than their countrymen, goes on to say, “I tell you, if you do not repent, you will perish as they did!” What is the implication here? All sinners are deserving of such punishment. And we are all sinners. Jesus is thus making clear that our repentance cannot be delayed. He continues this message by offering the parable of the fig tree. We often highlight God’s patience and mercy by this parable – and that makes sense especially given that the Psalm response is “The Lord is kind and merciful.” But it is striking that though the fruitless fig tree is given another year (a year of special attention and care, a last-ditch, extreme and persistent effort to save it), it will be cut down at the end of that year if it does not bear fruit. It seems that there will be a moment when the time of mercy is over, and what is left is judgment.
So, why be urgent? Because something gravely serious is at stake: the eternal salvation of people’s immortal souls. But do we even believe this any longer? Continue reading