As we draw ever so closer to the end of our liturgical year, the Church beckons us to spend some time in reflection about the “end of time.” The richness of the Scripture helps in framing the question.
The Hebrew prophet Malachi tells us that the end of the world is to be feared by the wicked. “Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch.”
Jesus himself in Luke’s Gospel, saw terrible times ahead: “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.”
That’s not all, our Lord later warns us, “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.” These calamities, Jesus says, will be the predecessors of the “end time.”
Obvious questions must be raised. Has there ever been an age without such trial and turmoil? What generation has been spared from the atrocities of war? What nation or ideological movement has not tried to use violence to promote their gain? When has the world been immune to dangerous diseases like COVID? Since when has the earth been set free from famine and plagues?
As far as I can see it, the signs that Jesus talks about have already come, and probably, will come again. And yet, the world still goes on. Every age has experienced similar instances, and the sun continually rises. So, is Jesus’ prophecy untrue? I can assure you this much, the prophecy is no longer only a prediction about the end of the world. His words are meant to be taken seriously, right now because there is end of all life and an end of our life. Both ends coming at different times.
The “end time” for each of us is right this minute. You needn’t look for signs to confirm it. Each of us is living in our own “end times.” We will never have this day to live again. We will never have this hour again to spend. Never will we be able to retrieve the experience of wonderful moment spent with another. Time passes and is gone forever. Today, with its opportunities and losses, passes away for us each time the sun sets. Every dusk announces the closing of a day that will never come again. The “end time” is here and now!
I hope that I have made you at least a bit uncomfortable. Because sometimes we need to be uncomfortable in order for change to happen. The thought our life will not go on forever shakes us out of our complacency. The way I see it is that we have no time to waste on fruitless anxiety about the end of the world, all the while missing the end of our time.
If you can contemplate the end of the world does not coincide with the end of your life, then the following questions need to be asked. How happy was I that yesterday ended the way it did? What opportunities did I have to do good pass without significance and meaning? How for granted did I take my own life, or the life of someone dear to me in the past couple of weeks?
These, I believe are the questions we need to ask ourselves in the light of the fact that we are smack in the middle of our own “end times.” As we ask these questions, we can answer them with a new sense of resolve because we have faith. A faith that acknowledges the reality of the “end times,” while at the same time giving us hope for the future. As a people who follow Christ, we acknowledge our end time is the precursor of a new life.
As we live one day after another, we do indeed live through a time that can never be given back. We die each and every day, but those small deaths can open up a vista of new life-giving opportunities. For faithful people, this mystery is ever present, and why shouldn’t it be? We all have been baptized into the Body of Christ. And that Body constantly lives the Paschal Mystery–suffering, dying and rising again. As members of that Body, we too suffer, we too die, and we too rise. The Paschal Mystery is not just a part of the believer’s life, it is the believer’s life.
As we contemplate the end of our own times, let us take note of all the tendencies that take away life without replacing it. The jealousy, the envy, the resentments, selfishness and the greed we spend so much of our limited time on distracts us from the reality that today could be our last day on earth.
Our end time will come when we least expect it. Have no regrets. Live well now by bringing the good to the chaotic world, knowing the promise of the one who died for our sins has promised you a future of happiness and tranquility.