Embracing the End Times
Brothers and sisters, here’s to the End Times!
The Church is in turmoil over the abuse crisis and its cover up by bishops; our nation is divided along lines that we have no idea how to reconcile; children go to bed hungry each night, and many do not awaken because of starvation; refugees are fleeing injustice and violence in Central America, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere; and California is on fire.
Everything is not “fine.”
Now, we even hear Jesus tell us, "In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” It’s scary stuff, perhaps – especially in these difficult and uncertain times of ours when we are searching for some comfort, some sense of hope.
However, the message this weekend isone of hope; it is one of comfort. We can see this, but it requires us to see with the eyes of our faith. Jesus is the key to this vision of hope.
If we are upset about the state of politics in our country, if we are hurting because of the presence of suffering and death in our lives, if we are frightened by people who are different from us, if we are feeling helpless as natural disasters scourge our world – even if we are angry because Doctor Who is now a woman – we have to remember that all of these things are part of this world – this reality in which we must live – and they are the effects of sin and rebellion against God which have been with us from the beginning. Jesus offers us a new perspective. As we hear in the Second Reading, “For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.”
Perfect? Me? You? Us?!? How can this be in such an imperfect world? A world that we too often conform ourselves to rather than following the path that our Savior and High Priest has laid out for us?
When Jesus says that this generation will not pass away until we see the glory of the Son of Man, He is not speaking of some far-off time in a fairy tale. Instead, He is speaking of Himself and the real work that He is and will accomplish through His death and resurrection. The End Times began when He rose from the dead and renewed creation for the Father. We are living in the End Times, yes – but we have been all our lives – since that first Easter. That is why we should not be so conformed to this world but be wise, as the prophet Daniel says – seeing in our own lives the real effects of that redemption that Jesus has won for all of us.
The reality of our redemption, then, should also call us to not be satisfied when we see the injustices, sufferings, and problems of our world. The fact that we all have been conformed to Christ should drive us to seek to correct wrongs and to forge a new world where those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.
Jesus, through His one offering, has made us perfect for Himself. At our heart, we are conformed to Him, and therefore our lives should show Him to the world – even to the point of transforming that world into a new one. A world of kind dialogue with one another; a world of compassion for the weak, suffering, or stranger; a world of service to others that welcomes them and embraces new friends. This is what Jesus sought to reveal in His life, and it is what He ushered in with His resurrection. We are already in this world, if only we open our eyes to see it!
These readings we hear this weekend are what are called “apocalyptic.” This does not mean that they are about the destruction of the world and everything in it. Rather, “apocalypse” means “unveiling” or “revealing.” They are meant to reveal to us the reality of our faith – that Jesus has already defeated all these terrors that beset us; and that we share in His victory and can therefore overcome their power in our lives.
It may be the End Times, but for us, that means the end of hatred, violence, injustice, and pointless suffering. We are made perfect for this purpose, and Jesus is calling us to open our eyes, to be wise, and to call many to justice so that we may finally shine like the stars forever.