The End

Reflection by Fr. Ed Liptak, SDB

Much dread of the end times exists, and many believe that the earth will one day collapse and be gone. The liturgy of this 33rd Week in Ordinary Time ‘C,’ however, gives us a taste of both joy and dread.

The first reading from Malachi lays dread at the feet of evildoers: “Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble;” they will be burnt to ashes. For those of us who have lived honoring God our Creator, that heat will be like the pleasant warmth of sun on aching bodies. “For you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of Justice with its healing rays.” We Christians know that the Sun of Justice is none other than Jesus Christ, the Lord. He promised his second coming, and so it will be.

The Responsorial Psalm repeats, “The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.” Jesus will establish equity. The unjust will get what they deserve. Let them dread; let us, the God-fearing, rejoice. And St. Paul, who had worked very hard while in Thessalonica, warned those so fearful of the end days that they quit working, ‘No work, no food.’ “Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and eat their own food.” Fear must not overcome common sense.

The Gospel of Luke is from soon before the Passion. On the Mount of Olives leaving Jerusalem, some admired the city and Te ple aglow in the sun, but Jesus cautioned them. His own end was near, and he said, “The days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Asked by his followers when this would happen, (it did in 70 AD when the Romans attempted to wipe out their religion), Jesus went beyond and began to describe the end of the world.

Pretenders will come saying they are me and that the end has come. Don’t listen! Insurrections and wars will come. Don’t be terrified. It is not the end. Nation will rise against nation; there will be great earthquakes, famines, plagues, awesome sights in the skies. Before all this you will be seized and persecuted by religious powers, kings, and governors, because you are Christians. Thus, you will give witness to me, and I will be present and give you wisdom to shame them. Some of you they will kill, but “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” Dreadful indeed, Lord Jesus! Nonetheless, strong, and loving Savior, 

“Help us to love and obey you until the day We gaze upon the beauty of your face.”

(Prayer on Psalm 90)