Dan 12:1-3; Heb 10:11-14,18; Mark 13:24-32
A priest once playing tennis with a friend and during the break, their talk shifted to a more serious vein with his partner asking: “Father, suppose the end of the world suddenly came and we were out there playing, what would you do? Get down on your knees and pray?”
The priest paused for a moment and said: “I’d go right on playing.”
What he’s trying to say is that we should not worry about the end of the world. What we should worry about is that whether or not we are holding on to our Christian faith and live it to the fullest despite of many adversities.
One commentary once said that believers and non-believers alike are concerned with the “end of the word.” Scientists speak of it as the end of the physical world. They point out that objects in space, bigger than a mountain, may stray from their orbits and strike the earth with a force more powerful than that generated by nuclear weapons. The impact will greatly disturb the earth’s ecosystems and cause the death of species, including human beings. If the giant projectiles miss, the cosmos has other ways of crushing or annihilating the planet. But scientists say that none of these will take place earlier than a billion years from now. There is no reason, you might say, to start worrying this for a minute.
But for us Christians, the “end of the world” refers not to the annihilation of the planet but to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Rather than a day to be feared of, it is a day filled with hope because it ushers in the final completion of history and the full reign of God.
But for us Filipino Catholics, we are often confused about this biblical “signs of the coming of Jesus Christ” like wars, famines, earthquakes, persecutions and the like which are stressed so much by the fundamentalist groups – the Born again Christian groups. Actually, these are just exhortation of “Be watchful! Be alert? You do not know when the time will come” (Mk 13:34). These signs are not factual descriptions of the end of the world, nor ways to calculate the time of the Lord’s coming.
Today’s gospel paints a picture of the scene that will take place when Jesus comes again. The falling of heavenly bodies seems to support the cataclysm predicted by scientists. But Jesus is merely using an apocalyptic language that is common in his time. The chaos in heaven symbolizes the fall of the old order that will be replaced by a new one.
All of us are waiting for the second coming of Jesus. This will be the day of His return. We recite the Creed at Mass and proclaim that Jesus “will come again to judge the living and the dead.” The New Testament writers used the Greek word Parousia which means the arrival and presence of a king, to describe this second coming of Jesus. When this day comes, Jesus will be acknowledged as Lord with the dead rising and all human beings judged in the presence of the glorified Christ, our King. When is he coming? Nobody knows. We only have to wait. But wait patiently and meaningfully. While waiting, let us share with one another our God-given gifts and talents. In other words, let’s do good works and be of service with our fellow human being.
A story is told about a young man suffering in the fires of hell. Day and night, he cried aloud to God pleading to be delivered from the torments of hell. God heard his cries. He asked what good work he had done while still on earth. An angel went through his bio-data in the huge heavenly computer and reported that the man shared some strings of onion to his poor neighbor.
“Alright,” God said, “make a cord out of the onion strings and lower it to him.” So the angel did as commanded.
As the angel eagerly lowered the cord, the young man desperately grabbed it. Then the angel started to lift him up. When his companions saw what was happening, they rushed and held like leeches onto his feet. The load became so heavy that, midway between heaven and hell, the cord snapped plunging him back to hell!
A priest commented that the young man could not save himself and his fellowmen because he had done so little good works. How about us, have we enough good works to deliver us from the fires of hell?
I will end this with a prayer: God, Lord of life and hope, who waits for us at the end of life’s road, I pray for the Church, that the People of God may proclaim with trust and joy their unshakable faith in eternal life and the everlasting dimension of all we do. Amen.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B