In the Gospel, there is a part where Christ laments about people seemingly knowing a lot of things and yet failing to read the signs of the times and, thus, failing to make proper judgments and unprepared to meet our Creator. (cfr. Lk 12,54-59) “You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” he asked.
With this lamentation, Christ is actually asking us to learn how to properly read the signs of the times or how things are going in general, so that we can become men and women of good judgment and direct ourselves to our proper end, which is none other than to be with God in heaven for all eternity, as he wants us to be.
Obviously, to be able to properly read the signs of the times is no easy task, especially these days. Given the multiplying forces and influences that go into our current culture, reading the signs of the times has become a formidable task that approaches the level of a nightmare.
And precisely because of our complex, intricate and puzzling world, this task has become more necessary. We need to stay away from the grip of ignorance, confusion, error, the ingredients of perdition.
Still, not everything is lost and beyond hope. The amount of information, given our ever-developing technologies, is not only massive and profound but is also much easier to access now.
Besides, we are never lacking of people with great potentials to effectively undertake this delicate task. We just need to discover them and seek their help.
What we need at present is the discipline to have an abiding concern to read the signs of the times. This is no simple thing, since it’s not just a matter of attitude, habits and skills, though they figure prominently in this task.
Yes, we need to learn how to collect data, compare notes, dialogue with different parties, consult experts, study, reflect, make conclusions and plan, etc., but all these are not enough.
Rather, this discipline in the end depends on our living contact and relationship with what we consider as our God, what we regard as our ultimate source of light and understanding.
Only then can we truly become men and women of sound judgment. There is obviously a theoretical and practical side to this affair. For one, we need to study the moral principles and the doctrine of our faith as thoroughly as possible. We should aim at nothing less than becoming masters and experts in this field, since these principles and doctrine are indispensable. We should not have second thoughts on this.
We have to realize that this study should be an ongoing and continuing concern, ever deepening and refining our understanding of these principles and doctrine, such that we can distinguish the nuances and fine points, and that they become part of our mentality.
Together with study and meditation, we need to grow in the virtues and to avail of the sacraments that keep us in the state of grace. We should not be theoretical and intentional only. We have to incarnate and express outwardly the things that we have learned in our ongoing formation.
Let’s realize that we can only see, judge and know persons, events and things properly when we have a vibrant interior or spiritual life, a vital link not only with theories and principles, but with God himself.*