Tuesday, 34th Week, Ordinary Time
Gospel LK 21:5-11
While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”
There is an apocalyptic strand in our social psyche. Throughout my life I have seen this apocalyptic scenario played out through fear of nuclear holocaust, pandemic disease, war on even an asteroid hitting the earth. I've also seen it played out in fear of natural disasters, especially when they occur at greater frequencies and with greater devastation. I see this same apocalyptic strand among our youth today with the whole zombie craze that entails the destruction of the human person through some fantastical disease that causes us to be "walking dead."
This apocalyptic reaction that we have to society on one level it can be morbid; but on another level there is something in today’s Gospel that taps into that apocalyptic strand. Jesus was talking about the end of the world today, about how things are supposed to come to the end. And there are two sides to today’s Gospel. On one side He says don’t panic. He says there is going to be wars and resurrections there are going to be all these different things but don’t panic. The end will not immediately come. But on the other side he says the end will come, there will be a time when everything will stop. And we have to be prepared.
This apocalyptic tendency in society has a place in our faith. If you have seen holy cards of saints many of the saints will have skulls at their feet. That skull is the symbol of death and points to the fact that saints have a daily familiarity with death. It is sobering to remember our human frailty, that today we could die. That sobering reality causes us to ask the question, "Am I living my life today in such a way that I would go to heaven if I were to die?" Whenever we remember the end of our life it helps us live our present life better. It keeps us in the reality that this life is not our final goal.
There is a goal that is yet to come. There is a place yet greater for me to go. If I live each day as if it were my last day then I would be more likely to conform my life to Christ’s. Then I would be prepared to spend the rest of eternity in the Kingdom of heaven.
Yes, there is this apocalyptic strand in our society. Some of it is inappropriately morbid; but some of it fits well with our faith. It is important to remember the day in which we die so that we can live every day as if it is our next opportunity to go to eternal life.