The End of the World For Us

Thursday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time

Rev 18: 1-2, 21-23, 19: 1-3, 9a; Luke 21: 20-28

By Deacon Larry Brockman


Sounds so ominous, doesn’t it?  Both of these readings describe terrible images of suffering- pregnant women in agony and running to escape; evil beings caged in their filth forever; people dying by the sword; people dying of fright; the powers of heaven shaken.

I think it helps to put all this in context.  We are in a transition between the end of the Church year and the beginning of the Church year, Advent.  Advent heralds the coming of Christ.  But there are really two comings of Christ- the Nativity, and the Last Judgment.  The readings during the transition emphasize the Last Judgment, because the end of the year symbolizes the end of life.

Many of our Protestant brethren claim this is a literal prophecy of the second coming of Christ.  They then try to predict when and where all this will happen.  But most of the Catholic interpretations are different.  For example, the early Church Fathers who analyzed the scriptures in the 3rd through 6th centuries were pretty well in agreement that the events predicted by Jesus here and some of those in Revelation, were already fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD.  These events, they say, only have symbolic significance for what happens to those who are not saved at the Last Judgment.

On the other hand, take note of what Jesus says in verses 27 and 28.  “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand”.  Wow!  This is a wonderfully optimistic message for all of us.  Yes, we, those who are confident at the Last Judgment should stand erect because we will be about to experience our redemption and heavenly reward.

Later on in Luke Jesus tells people not to be drowsy because of preoccupation with things of this world, rather, they are to be alert and aware.  Certainly, if our attention, our focus, our priority is on something other than our salvation while we are alive; and we are not in tune with the Lord in our lives, then if we die unexpectedly; we will be startled by the immediate prospect of Christ’s coming amongst the clouds and approaching us for the Last Judgment.  And that’s really what this is all about.

Notice particularly that we should stand erect when all these things begin to happen.  So those negative things are happening to those who are afraid of Christ at the Last Judgment right from the beginning of their after life experience either because they don’t recognize Him and run away to their own devices; or they who know they have done evil.  But to those who are confident Christians, they have nothing to fear.

So, we should take comfort out of today’s readings, rather than fear, because as our Psalm says today:  “Good indeed is the LORD,  Whose love endures forever, whose faithfulness lasts through every age.

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