It ain’t over

peace-joy-hope-faithWell… the elections are done. Half the country celebrates, while half the country mourns. The Democrats will do a post mortem, regroup and get ready for 2020. The Republicans have the tiger by the tail…and now have to figure out what to do with it… as governance of a divided nation tasks them. Both sides can rightly say, “it ain’t over.”

And with all of this in the air we get to hear the words of Luke’s gospel: “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not … be the end.’ Then [Jesus] said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”  Hardly the upbeat, good news that a divided people need.  Maybe we need a song to counter such ominous, foreboding, and uncertain, dark days described in Luke’s gospel.

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing

Lest you think I am simply trying to distract you or jumping the gun on Christmas, you might find it interesting to know that this most popular Christmas carol was composed in 1719 by Isaac Watts, an English churchman – and not with Christmas in mind. It was Watts’ interpretation of our Responsorial Psalm, Psalm 98. It does not refer to the first coming of Christ, but rather to his coming again, when Christ returns as King. It is rather upbeat and speaks to Hope: the Lord is come – not the Lord has come – but is coming right now, so prepare, because it ain’t over.

While parents might be covering their children’s ears at such seemingly poor grammar: it ain’t over – such expression has its own source.  Friday as I was taking a long walk on the beach. I came upon an older couple – let’s call them Mary and Jim. They asked if I was OK – they has observed I was looking down as I walked, seemed to be talking to myself, and noticed the fingers on my right hand were “fidgeting” (I believe that was the word she used.) For some reason, I responded with more than the “I’m fine, thanks for asking – and have a nice day.” I mentioned that I was praying as I walked along. Mary said, “Oh, you forgot your rosary, did you?” Her very fine bit of deduction was exactly right – I had forgotten a rosary and was tracking things on my fingers. She said that she and Jim were Catholics from Indiana and then asked what I was praying about. As it happens, I was keeping our veterans in prayer, my mom whose 93rd birthday would have been this week, and was praying for inspiration for homily from a set of readings that are not exactly my favorites – and occasionally thinking about the election-changing landscape.

As we began to chat, their story began to unfold. Turns out they were here in Florida celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary. Jim commented: “Her dad wasn’t much for the marriage. He thought it would last about a year. But it ain’t over yet,” he said with a chuckle and a squeeze of Mary’s hand. They described the high points and low points of the marriage – moments when they were about to give up, but they had hope, recognition “it ain’t over” – and that was enough. They spoke rather candidly about the many moments of their shared life that were filled with anxiety, fear, trepidation, disquiet, and more – and it seemed to me that the lesson life had taught them was this repeated expression: “it ain’t over.” They put their trust in one another and in God – the prepared for the Lord is come – and they never quit on one another.

They had learned his from the dark days during the Korean War at Chosin Reservoir, the factory closures and job loss, the death of a child, and even the most recent news from his oncologist, “There is nothing more to be done.”  As Jim remarked, “This might be the last anniversary we get to celebrate, but it ain’t over. The kingdom will get here and the best is yet to come. Those days ain’t ever going to end.”  Amen to that!

Maybe some wise folks from Indiana have distilled Jesus’ message of the Kingdom down to its essence: Don’t quit on one another. Live in Hope because the Lord is come; it ain’t ever over.

The time for this homily has come to end, but the song goes on:

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing

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