The End Is Here!

The readings at end of the Church’s liturgical year evoke the End of Time and life everlasting.

Our society shies away from contemplating these topics in part because they seem unpleasant and in part because we’re just too busy with the present.

The unpleasant – plagues, famine, war – that happens somewhere else, to other peoples, not to us. The destruction of the temple – not a stone left upon a stone – that sounds poetic. That is not going to happen to the Washington Monument. And it is not going to happen to our ever-so-humble middle class home. And if it does, well, we have insurance. Or the government will come to our assistance.

But personal lives do get shocks and even come to a halt. Divorce; job loss; a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a close friend, it turns out has cancer; we succumb to addiction; we do horrible destructive things to ourselves and to others.

What happens to us during these critical times? Do we bargain with God, deny reality or experience fear? Grief, shock, fear can paralyze us.

At this point, Jesus reminds us, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

That perseverance comes from the confidence that God loves us and God is walking alongside with us through our pain and struggle and even through our mistakes and failings.

It often difficult, if not impossible, to see that God is with us because of the busyness of our lives – work, the traffic, the noise, the music, the errands, and our efforts to douse or escape our pain with alcohol, drugs, and entertainment.

Seeing God’s love for us in our difficulties requires us stop and look inside ourselves. It also requires us see how others stretch out helping hands to us.

Then, there is the ultimate reality, our final destination that lies beyond our daily lives, eternity. In the Middle Ages, the monks, it is said, placed a skull on their desks or working tables to remind themselves of life everlasting.

The Scripture readings in the liturgy urge us to consider our final destiny with God.

But Jesus also spoke of the Reign of God not as some distant world beyond but as starting right here and now. When we share the load with each other, we contribute to life and to the nourishment of the community. We begin building a heavenly abode for ourselves and for others in this life when we reach out to others.

As long as we perverse, seek the truth, show compassion and justice, God will not disappoint. Indeed, if being with God is our “end.” And the end is near! In fact, it’s here because God is with us.