Monday, November 18, 2013

"It's the End of the World as We Know It": 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

            In 1987 the rock band R.E.M. debuted its hit “It’s the End of the World as we Know It”.  I would sing it to you, but I don’t think this would do anyone any good.  Plus there are like 4,000 words in this song and I only know “Six o’clock tv hour…”
            Remember last year when the end of the world was going to end on December 21st?  On December 20th I walked around our school playing this song and sang the chorus: “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine!”  I did feel fine because I knew the world wasn’t going anywhere based on an ancient calendar system.
            Near the end of the liturgical year we focus on the end.  And in our readings we see a few different perspectives on what will happen at this time.  Malachi, as an example of the prophets, focused on how God will bring justice for the poor and weak and condemn the rich and haughty: “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, says the LORD of hosts.”
            The men and women of Thessalonica thought the second coming of Christ was immanent.  The reason why St. Paul gives the Thessalonians my Dad’s favorite verse—“If you don’t work, you don’t eat”—is that they had quit their jobs in expectation of this miraculous event.  They assumed Jesus would come back to heaven within a few days.  Paul told them to get back to work.
            Jesus speaks about the end himself.  While he, too, says some mysterious and even scary things, we don’t need to be afraid of the end.  Malachi ends with a note of hope, “But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”  Jesus also gives us great confidence: “I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute…not a hair on your head will be destroyed.  By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
            Admittedly, the end times may bring thoughts of confusion or fear.  Yet most of all, we should be excited because Christ will be back on earth.  The eternal Word who became man, died for our sins, rose again and ascended to his Father, is coming again.  Our friend will return.  These facts should give us confidence to persevere to the end, be it our own life, or the end of the world.

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