Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The End

By means of the cycle of the liturgical year, the Church in her wisdom sets before our eyes very vividly the reality of the unavoidable end of our lives and of the history of the world, and the expectation of good things to come: The day is coming, says the prophet Malachy to us, blazing like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble… But for you who fear my name, the sun of justice will arise with healing in its wings.  We do well to contemplate this reality of the day of reckoning with our minds and hearts, through the words and teachings of the Lord Jesus himself.  The great challenge is to decide what will be our attitude in the face of this impending reality of the End of Time, when we believe that the Lord Jesus himself will come in glory, to judge and save.

Jesus’ “eschatological discourse” in today's Gospel according to Luke takes place in the temple in Jerusalem, where many people are enthralled with admiration, looking at the impressive solidity of the temple and the very costly stones and offerings that embellish it.  It seemed to the Jews that the temple would last forever, because it was the grandest building they had ever seen, and also because it had been granted to them by God himself.  And yet Jesus says that all that magnificence will come tumbling down one day.  For the Jews this was a great tragedy that announced the end of the world.  Jesus takes the occasion to describe a number of historical and natural catastrophes, like earthquakes and wars, that point to the world’s end.  But then comes the most important part of the sermon, when Jesus warns his disciples sternly, saying: See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, “I am he,” and “The time has come.” Do not follow them!

This warning of the Lord is crucial for us, because it means that the end of the world will not occur mechanically, enforced by some law of destiny allegedly inscribed in the stars and proclaimed by all kinds of charlatans and impostors.  No!  The end of the world will occur only with the coming of the one and only Jesus, Lord of history and creation, and the moment of this coming depends entirely on the freedom of God’s gracious will, which always seeks our good, and not on any impersonal process of history or nature. As Malachy prophesies, those who fear God’s name have nothing terrible to fear as they await the end of the world.  The coming of the Lord Jesus, the one who loves us and has shed his blood for us, can never be a reason of fear for the Christian.

Photograph by Brother Brian. Excerpts from a homily by Father Simeon.