Sunday, January 1, 2012
READING THE SIGNS OF OUR TIMES
Homeless, Chicago, IL
Have you ever been listening to a broadcast or reading an article that characterizes a situation as “a sign of the times”? Ubiquitous home foreclosures are a sign of the times given the greed surrounding irresponsible lending practices in recent years. Global warming and strong earthquakes seem to be a sign of the radically changing environment of this planet we inhabit. Unprecedented violations of trust in major sports programs are a sign of the uncontrollable influence that key coaches now wield in these programs. The revolutionary decline of the printed word is a sign of the rapidly developing technology of the electronic media of our time. The overall decline of the American standard of living is a sign of the rapid movement of jobs off shore and the subsequent improvement of other cultures to create a world economy that is moving toward an overall average.
I was recently listening to a “best of 2011 interviews” show with Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun who wrote the bestselling book Dead Man Walking. Prejean had committed her life to social justice for the down trodden among us. Her involvement began as a spiritual advisor to a man on death row whose brother had admitted to the killing for which he was sentenced to be executed. After his wrongful death she devoted her life to abolishing capital punishment and even founded an organization that advocates for victim’s families. Her comment that caught my attention during the interview was “To find God, we must read the signs of our times”. It seemed to go hand in hand with an observation that there have been many disciples of God over the years, but only we can be disciples or advocates for our time. Every generation seems to believe that the times they live in are the most challenging ever in human history and they may be correct. Or perhaps every generation is confronted with a new set of issues that simply mirror their unique times, since human nature doesn’t seem to have changed much over the years. And if we involve ourselves in the issues that are profoundly and adversely affecting the common good and work to right the wrongs in the world, we may just find a divine partnership in the process.