"Teacher, when will all this happen?" (Luke 21:8).
When Luke composed his Gospel, he focused on Jesus as the champion abd fulfillment of the many promises and prophecies found in the scriptures. From Mary's canticle, based on Hannah's song at the birth of her son, Samuel, to Jesus' inaugural address in the synagogue of Nazareth, based on Isaiah, It is clear that God was intent on revolution.
The coming of God's kingdom gave notice that the world was about to be turned upside down. The mighty would be brought down, the poor raised up. The first would be last, the last first. Prisoners and the oppresssed would be set free. A jubilee year would challenge the income gap of ownership, and economic advantage would be reset to give everyone a fresh start.
What then and now seemed a utopian dream was in fact a warning, that without fairness and social justice, the world was courting disaster. Voluntary change rooted in conversion and reconciliation was necessary not as an option but to avert violent overthrow and endless war.
Luke found in the apocalyptic themes of Ezekiel and Daniel the imagery we find in today's readings. Even great empties would have "feet of clay" and come crashing down. Cosmic disturbances and and natural cataclysms would signal a time of judgment.
We read these ancient texts and wonder just how they could apply to us. Several truths are laid at our doorstep in the 21st century. First, God works with human freedom. A world that refuses to read the signs of the times or learn from history will repeat its mistakes and cycle through another round of failure and suffering. Second, our freedom means we must not wait passively for disaster to overtake us, but we are called to take responsibility for our human institutions, systems and structures. Third, God provides every grace and resource we need to change history. The Kingdom of God is always at hand when we join hands with God to make a difference.