Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus criticizes the crowd by saying that they could interpret the earth and the clouds but do not know how to interpret the present time.
So, how do we know what’s going on in the world? How do we read the signs of the times? We could do so politically, sociologically, culturally, or economically. All these ways are valuable lenses for viewing the world. But note the important difference in the Bible.
What was peculiar about ancient Israel was their reading the world through theological lenses. When they wanted to read the signs of the times, they wondered what God was doing and why. The deepest and truest reading is the theological one that seeks after the divine causality and purpose that works under and through all the other lenses.
The modern period has become largely conditioned by a deist view of God, whereby God is construed as a distant object only vaguely related to the world. On this reading God does not actively involve himself in the affairs of economics, politics, or culture. Ah! But that’s not the biblical reading. For the biblical authors, God acts in and through all the ordinary events and dynamics of the world.