It is said that when you move into a new area, you should not use maps or GPS to find your way around town. Instead, you should pay attention to the road signs and landmarks if you wish to really learn the area. It is said that when you have your ‘nose in a map’ (or waiting for your GPS to tell you to turn) you will never really know where you are. The same is true for your spiritual journey to heaven.
It is also said that bankers do not study every sort of counterfeit money. Instead, they become so familiar with the ‘real stuff’ that when a counterfeit bill comes across their desk, they immediately recognize something wrong. If they always use one of those special pens on every bill, they will never learn to recognize the real from the counterfeit. The same is true for your spiritual journey to heaven.
In those days, Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maid servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'" – Acts 2.14-21
In today’s reading from Acts, read in honor of the Feast of the Prophet Joel, we find what happens when people have lost their familiarity with their spiritual journey. The Messiah had come, and many did not recognize Him. Now in today’s reading which is just after the ‘Pentecost Event’ again people are not familiar with the signs in front of them, so St Peter reminded them of what the Prophet had told them would take place. If they had been familiar with the ‘real stuff’ of the Scriptures, they would have already come to recognize what was taking place.
Over the centuries since Pentecost, many have used their prophet voice to warn the Church. That what prophets do. Prophets are not fortune tellers. Instead, they are inspired by God to tell people of the warning signs of what will take place unless something changes. These ‘signs’ are used by God to jog our memory. Sort of like when a banker notices something ‘not quite right’ with a $100 bill. The special pen only confirms their suspicion. The prophet warnings were not as much a warning of the ‘end times’ like some think, but warnings to get our act together, and “be saved.”
It isn’t worth going through life trying to predict when Christ will return. He already told us that we will not know. He already told us to be ready at any moment, because He is coming like a “thief in the night.” The signs we should be looking for aren’t to help us figure out how much time we have left. We aren’t looking for which street to turn on for our final destination. I would suggest that we are looking for the signs that we are in the right neighborhood. I would suggest that we are watching to make sure we are READY for the turn when it comes.
Are you ready? If you are not ready, then get ready. Call your spiritual father and schedule a confession. Adjust your life to become more familiar with the ‘real stuff’ of God and the Church, so when you come across something counterfeit (and there is plenty of counterfeit religion out there) you will immediately notice something wrong.