Daily Reflection
November 26th, 1999
Euene E. Selk
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Daniel 7:2-14
Daniel 3:75-81
Luke 21:29-33
The Gutenberg Bible, c.1455
The first western book printed using movable type 

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This parable of the fig tree may be one of the most minimalist parables in the gospels.  The parable is flanked by Jesus’ final eschatological discourse.  The parable states that when you see the fig tree budding, you know that summer is near.  Similarly, when you see the destruction of Jerusalem and many other tribulations, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 

The fig tree is a prominent tree in Palestine and is often a symbol for the blessings of the land.  One way of reading this parable is that we can indeed see the fig tree budding and summer coming--it happens regularly with the cycle of the seasons.  Thus the kingdom of God is indeed here among us.  Now is the time of the fig tree and now is the time of the kingdom of God.  And we need not worry about some horrific future (“the surge of the sea,” “people [fainting] . . . with terror” (Luke 21: 25-26)) if we strive for the kingdom of God everyday of our lives.

Following Irenaeus (Latin father, 2nd century), I like to think of living a Christian life as a pilgrimage.  We are on a pilgrimage with the goal of growing in our relationship with God.  On a pilgrimage, one needs to take care every day so that one’s activities lead to the goal.  So to live as a Christian means that we should be working on our relationship with God at all times.  No one time or day is more special for this task than another.  At the end of the millennium, we should not be concerned about dramatic upheavals occurring at some future time.  If we are faithful on our pilgrimage, why should we have any concern about such events?

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