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Key words and phrases: Learn a lesson from the fig tree, when you see these things happening, he is near.
To the point: Learn a lesson from the fig tree." What are we to learn? That the annual greening of the fig tree is a harbinger of new life arising out of seeming deadness. That the annual gospel prediction of apocalyptic destruction is a harbinger that Jesus "is near." Indeed Jesus' promise that he will be near at the end of times is a promise already being fulfilled now. Life arising from deadness has already happened to Jesus. It is already happening in us.
To the First Reading: Like the gospel, the first reading apocalyptically describes calamity and distress. But its stronger point is the promise that those "who lead the many to justice" will "live forever." The first reading provides the ethical injunction—a way to live—that assures new life will arise from seeming deadness.
To Experience: Popular religious culture is fascinated by the end times with their "cataclysms and their unsurpassed distress." But what the end times more truly reveal is Christ's victory and our share in his glory.