Across the street from us is a large cemetery in which are buried many good people. And probably some bad ones. Want to know something they all shared in common during their lives? They all believe at some level that the world would end in their lifetime. It’s human nature.
We can know intellectually that it’s probably not going to happen. We can tell ourselves that the cemeteries of the world are full of people whose lives ended before the Second Coming and that one day we will join them, almost certainly before Christ returns and the final judgment is rendered.
Still, there’s a part of us that believes we will be here until the end… and that’s fine, because at some point someone is going to be right. A lot of someones are going to be right. Because it does end. The day of the Lord comes, as Paul writes, like a thief in the night.
Readings in recent weeks have served to remind us to be watchful, be awake, be sober, be wise. They have reminded us to remain in the light and to be ready. In today’s second reading, Paul writes that When people are saying, “Peace and security,” then sudden disaster comes upon them … and they will not escape.
Be vigilant. Be watchful. Be awake. Be ready. Be sober and be wise. Be all of these things, but more than anything else be not afraid.
We have no need of fear, for our strength comes from the Lord. Paul writes that all of you are children of the light and children of the day. And our strength comes from the light and from the Lord who made the light and made the day. And who made us, and desires that none of us be lost.
We can look around at our world, and there is plenty to make us fear. We are surrounded by madness. Babies murdered in the womb. Children starving in a world where mountains of food are thrown away daily. Drug fueled crime that is the stuff of nightmares.
Are people saying, “peace and security”? Yes. Are they believable? Not very. And yet in the face of all this, I tell you: be not afraid. Why? Because our peace and our security is our faith in God. Our love for God. And – most importantly – God’s love for us.
Will the state of the world get worse? Probably. Short of divine intervention or every Christian in the world praying the Rosary as if his or her life depends on it, it seems likely things will get worse. Some things. But some things also get better. Which do you want to be a part of?
Do you want to be responsible for things getting worse or for things getting better? Have you ever asked yourself that question – seriously asked it – and made yourself answer it? It’s worth asking.
When have you made the world worse? And it doesn’t have to be on the scale of genocide; every single sin counts, even the smallest uncharitable thought. When have you made the world better? Again, you don’t have to surpass Mother Theresa in acts of charity to make the world better; a simple kind word to a stranger is enough. Do they balance?
I hope they don’t. The servant in today’s Gospel who was given one talent merely balanced. He returned neither more nor less, and for that he was called useless and thrown into the darkness.
The other two servants were given an amount based on the master’s judgment of their ability and each of them returned twice what they were given. For this, they were rewarded and given even more.
So, ask yourself: What have I been given? What good have I enjoyed in my life? What has God entrusted me with? And then ask yourself, what have I done to double that which I have been given so that good may be returned to God for the glory of God. By doing our own acts of good when and where we can, we can all of us change the face of the world. We can’t afford to wait for anyone else to start it, because it starts with you and it starts with me.