Each year at this time, as we approach the end of the current liturgical year, the Church asks us to meditate on the “last things” – Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell – as they apply to us.
This Sunday’s Gospel passage, together with Mathew 24 and Luke 21, is often called the “Little Apocalypse.” Apocalypse literally means, “unveiling.” What is unveiled in Sunday’s readings is the assurance that God will be with us all the days of our lives and is in our midst now – guiding, protecting, and strengthening us.
Jesus uses a parable of the fig tree to warn for watchfulness. The fig tree sprouts its leaves in late Spring heralding the summer season. The application of this image to the end of the world suggests that the end of the world will mean good times, or “summer” for Jesus’ faithful disciples. God will bring things to a triumphant end and his truth, love, and justice will prevail forever. Let no one frighten us with disturbing descriptions of the end of the world because “the end” is all about birth into eternity. We affirm our readiness each Sunday when we profess, in the Creed, “….and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.”
But we must always be well prepared to face our “end” because we do not know neither the day nor the hour of the ending of the world nor of our own life. We live in the shadow of eternity. Hence, faithful disciples are to watch and wait in a state of readiness. “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord”, the Psalmist tells us (Ps 27: 14).
Instead of worrying or becoming alarmed about “end time” events, we are to live every day of our lives loving God, loving Him in others, and in committed service. We must so live that it does not matter when he comes. This gives us the great task of making every day fit for him to see. Thus, will we enter into a deeper relationship with Him now; one which will continue when we pass through death into a different kind of life.
Let us take heart and not be frightened. The end of the world should never be thought of as depressing, disheartening, or frightening, because we are in the hands of a good and loving God. He journeys with us in the trials and difficulties of life and His word is ever-present as a light of hope. Through it, he speaks to us, consoles us, guides us, and holds us.
Don’t let go!