Reflections on 2 Timothy
4: 6-8, 16-18
John G. Gibbs,
It's not over until it's over.
At the Battle of Thermopylae the Greek soldier Dienekes was
told that the Persian invaders' arrows were so numerous as to
block out the sun. His retort: "So much the better. Then
we shall fight in the shade." Though Persians won that
battle in 480 BCE, the Greeks have prevailed in the long run
until this day nearly 2,500 years later. [Herodotus, Book 7,
The struggle to care for earth proceeds now underneath a dark
cloud of corporate irresponsibility and legislative logjam.
In the long run, nevertheless, the facts of climate change will
have their persuasive power. Humanity will either take care
of its habitat or endure the destructive boomerang of its ecological
folly. Odds are that the instinct of self-preservation wins.
In the meantime we are called to live for the future: mankind's
future and the future of our planet. More than that, we are
called to think, act, and live "for the greater glory of
God" ("ad maiorem gloriam dei, as J S Bach dedicated
his Organ Works).
No matter how dark present prospects may be for earth care,
we fix in mind one of those quotations that now adorn the new
rug in the Oval Office. It comes from Martin Luther King, Jr.:
"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward
justice." Living in light of that reality, we can say together
at the end of life what the author of 2 Timothy wrote near the
end of his life: "I have fought the good fight, I have
finished the race, I have kept the faith."
In the meantime we are called to live in the prophetic tradition
which is always future-oriented. In this Creation Season 2010
the major text for this day is Joel 2:21-32, which I have discussed
elsewhere on this website. [Be sure to include vv. 21-22 in
your reading of this text.] Only after the Lord has addressed
the creation's needs (2:21-22) does God, as this prophet sees
it, speak convincingly to the people (2:23):
"Do not fear, you animals of the field,
for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit,
the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
O children of Zion, be glad>
and rejoice in the Lord your God
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh
It's not over until it's over. Jesus is coming! Plant a tree.