The liturgical year is drawing to a close.; we are only a few weeks away from Advent and the beginning of the new Church year. This is the time of year when we hear readings from the prophets and from the evangelists about tribulations… about times unsurpassed in distress… about the stars falling from the sky and the powers in heaven being shaken.
These readings are given for out instruction, but some people make them an obsession. There are always those who claim to have discovered a secret that lets them know when the world will end and Jesus will come again.
This isn’t a surprise. Holy Scripture warns us of false prophets and of false messiahs. I have long believed that almost everyone thinks at some level that the world will end in his lifetime. The next time you drive past a cemetery, take a moment to reflect on all of the many people who were wrong on that count. Probably, the world will not end in our life time. Probably, the world can endure quite nicely without any one of us being there to help it along.
Now, I’m not saying the world will never end or that Jesus will never return. It will end; He will be there when it does. But do you want to know a secret?
Jesus will be there; He’s already here.
He is with us in the proclamation of His Holy Word. He is with us in the prayers and songs of Mass. He is with us Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. He is present in Father acting in the Person of Christ at the consecration. And He is present in each and every one of us and in our brothers and sisters around the world, who make up the Body of Christ.
We should worry less about the end of the world and think more about the end of our own life. We should worry less about seeing Christ coming on a cloud with bands of angels and prepare more for meeting Him at the end of our own allotted time on this earth.
It is wise to recognize that our time on earth is limited; it is prudent to prepare for our own end. The Church teaches us that there are Four Last Things: death, judgment, Heaven, and Hell. Every one of us will see three of them. We will all die; we will all be judged. We will all ultimately find ourselves spending eternity in one of two places: heaven or hell.
We should – we must – prepare for our own end. It may come sooner; it may come later… but there is one guarantee: we will be there when it does. Not a single one of us will miss attending our own death.
The end of the world will come also, but many have died without seeing it and many more are likely to die before it comes. Besides, if you are ready for your own judgment, you will be ready for the world’s judgment should you happen to live to see it.
A fascination with the end of the world is, really, at its core a fascination with the world. We should not let the world that is passing away distract us from that which endures forever: the love God has for us and the love we should have for God. Let us pray especially during these last days of the liturgical year for the strength and the wisdom to live our lives in friendship with Christ and in a state of grace, so that when we come to the end of our earthly journey we can take our place in the company of saints in heaven, which is the end that God desires for each one of us.