Nov 14, 2015

33rd Sunday - "To what end?"

We all know the two certainties of life, death and taxes, and true.  That’s at least one thing we can all agree on.  Yet, we may forget that science has provided another certainty: what concerns the inevitable end of the universe.  It’s something we would rather not think about yet science tells us that about five billion years from now the sun will expand and take with it this earth and all the planets. Although that may be true, I doubt we need to worry (aside from solar flares and such) yet it will happen as it has happened in other parts of the universe.  Nothing material lasts forever, including us of course. We are also told that the expanding universe will at some time reverse itself when the Big Crunch will replace the Big Expansion.  That too will happen evidently and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

Now at nearly the end of our liturgical year, the writers of our Scriptures this Sunday most likely knew nothing of astrophysics, when we hear, as in our Gospel, the words of Jesus: “the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky,”(Mk 13: 24-25),  we can’t help but think in terms of what our scientists tell us is inevitable. But is this end really near? Some faith traditions claim it may be according to nature’s changes – but scientists and our personal experience know that nature always changes.

We could say, “Well, it’s closer than yesterday” but so is our ultimate personal end.  Still who wants to live in constant fear?  Jesus does not desire that angst for us.  Life is about living after all. Jesus came to bring joy and reassurance of God’s forgiveness and mercy as he invites us to relationship with himself, the Father and the Spirit in spite of what cards we may be dealt. So, how should we approach this Sunday?  - With faith and hope. 

Yet, it’s tough for us in these “politically correct, open tolerance, alternate lifestyle, and subjective moral days” to digest the truth of the scriptures words this Sunday.  But rather than imagine a kind of end times destruction, the words are written to give us hope.  That in the end God will triumph and that not even death will be the end of us. And as to those end times, we take heart in Jesus’ own words: “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mk 13: 32). Still, it IS closer than yesterday. 

In the end this week’s readings assure us that in the ultimate end of all things Christ will be recognized as Lord of all history.  What may seem a near impossible truth and a long time in coming is nonetheless assured that all will end in Christ.  All the claimants to power and control, the wars and natural disasters have and seemingly will continue.  In light of these recent times of threats we may all wonder about how far evil will be allowed to go?

Yet, as a Christian people we don’t lose heart.  Our faith should be stronger and we, as Jesus reminds us, still have work to do: “This generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place . . .” (Mk 13: 31). So, the mission of the Church and as members ours as well, is to gather others to Christ, to not lose hope in his promise, to participate and to do more than just show up, to know and serve the Lord.  It’s not just words or fantasy or fright.  It’s rock solid hope in Christ who has conquered death and who’s words can be trusted as truth.   

As we enter into the mystery of the Eucharist, let’s take heart to know that who we receive, this food for our journey through life and the power of his Word to bring all to himself.  Our Lord will come when he is sent by the Father so may he not find us unprepared. 

Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God,
the constant gladness of being devoted to you,
for it is full and lasting happiness
to serve with constancy
the author of all that is good. 
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. 

(Collect of Sunday)