End of the world, preparedness

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Word Alive — Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD

November 13, 2022 / 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, Last Judgment

A fired-up preacher was drawing out from his supply of imagery to describe the end of the world. “Thunder will boom,” he fulminated. “Rivers will overflow. Flames will shoot down from heaven and the earth will quake violently. Darkness will fall over the world!”

Whereupon a small boy in the congregation, scared and panicky by the preacher’s bombast, nudged his father and asked, “Papa, will there be classes tomorrow?”

* * *

We have reached the end of the Church calendar. As we do so, we reflect on the end of the world.

Some people have been asking me, “Is the world about to end?” “And why should the end be near?” I ask. They say: “Because the Bible says, ‘There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, plagues from place to place.” Then this time, wars continue unabated, the build-up of nuclear armaments persist, pollution and the irresponsible exploitation of natural resources that are causing the climate change are ever-increasing. Aren’t these happening now?”

* * *

During Christ’s time, people were gravely perturbed and asked the same questions. But Christ said not to be frightened “for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon” (cf. Lk 21, 9).

Similarly, a number of the early Christians were keenly anxious about the end of the world and Christ’s second coming, so they concluded that it was useless to work. That’s why St. Paul in this Sunday’s second reading castigated the people, saying: “Anyone who does not work should not eat” (2 Thesslonians 3, 10).

* * *

Moreover, let us not waste precious time speculating when the world will end. Jesus douses cold water on all predictions of the end, saying, “As for that day or hour nobody knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father” (Mk 13,32).

* * *

What matters most is preparedness. “It will go well with those servants whom the Master finds watching on his return,” Jesus said.

How is this “preparation” to be undertaken? Many make preparation by buying a lot in a memorial garden or a vault in a columbarium.

* * *

Some execute a last will and testament for the heirs which, by the way, can be a source of unending disputes due to the unequal distribution of the properties.

The material preparation before dying is all right. However, that’s not enough. What’s more important is spiritual preparation and bringing eternal provisions to the next life.

* * *

Making spiritual provisions means living an upright life following God’s will and commandments.

If you read carefully the parable of the Last Judgment, you will notice that our reckoning will not depend on our intelligence, our good looks, our fame and fortune. Of course, all of these are important insofar as they serve the needs of people, especially the less fortunate (Read Mt. 25, 31-46). Finally, let’s not forget to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Jesus explicitly said at the Last Supper, “Do this in memory of me.” “He who eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood will live to eternal life.”

* * *

Although the gospel message this Sunday may sound terrifying with its apocalyptic images, it ends with a note of hope. “Your patient endurance will save you your lives,” the Lord assures us.

* * *

THE LIGHTER SIDE. It was the first time for a young lady to read the Scripture before a large congregation in church. Poor first-timer, she was visibly nervous and kept stuttering. As she concluded, she  blurted out: “This…this…is the end of the world” (Word). And the congregation in compassion chorused: “Thanks be to God”!


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