Friends, the famous call of the Vatican II fathers to “read the signs of the times” is grounded in Jesus’ exhortation in the Gospel for today. Followers of Jesus are meant to look at the world with clear eyes, to see what is happening, to be attentive. But this attention is of a particular type. It is not the attention of the scientist or the philosopher or the politician—though it can include those. It is an attention to the things of God.
I have often argued that many of us today are still enthralled to a deist view of God, whereby God is a distant and aloof first cause of the universe, uninvolved with the world he has made. But Thomas Aquinas taught that God is in all things “by essence, presence, and power,” and that God providentially cares for every aspect of his creation. Therefore, we should expect to see signs of his presence and activity in nature, in history, and in human affairs.
And once we see, we are meant to speak! In a way, followers of Jesus are not looking at the signs of the times for their own benefit, but rather that they might share their prophetic perspective with everyone else. So look around, look with attention, look with the eyes of faith!