Last Sunday after Pentecost 23.11.14 The end of everything
We come to the Last Sunday of the Church year.
The prayers and readings naturally put us in mind of the last stages of time; the last moment of our lives; the last moments of the world itself.
It is an exciting, perhaps frightening topic. How will it all end?
Each year we say the same thing: I don’t know where this year has gone.
We have a sense of time rushing away. This should translate into a sense of urgency that we make sure we are ready for our own ‘going’. If time goes so fast then that must mean the end of my own life is approaching fast.
But it is easy to miss that connection; to amble along as though we have forever to get our spiritual affairs in order; to put off indefinitely the settling of accounts for when the Master returns.
The end of the year gives us a chance to contemplate the end of our lives and the end of the world.
‘End’ can have two meanings. End as in ‘finish’; and end as in ‘purpose’.
We could just avoid thinking about the certain end (finish) of our lives, and carry on as though it will never happen.
Or we can face matters squarely and say that while I still have time I will organise myself so that I am living life as it is meant to be lived. I am living for the end (purpose) until the end (finish).
The purpose of our lives is made clear in our Catholic faith - that we are created by God to know, love, and serve Him; to live in such a way that according to the talents He has given each person; and the circumstances in which we find ourselves, we will spend every moment in accord with His holy will.
This we do for all the time that remains for us, whether short or long.
Many believe in God but act as though He is not there. Maybe they think they will deal with Him when the time comes (death). But we have to deal with Him now. The principle of crossing each bridge as we come to it works for some things but not death and judgment.
Am I ready to die today? This is a question which must always be before us because we might die today. We can never say with certainty that we will be alive 24 hours from now.
The language of today’s Gospel, and similar biblical passages, is meant to stir us into a closer consciousness of these things.
Human nature is inclined to complacency. If the sky is blue and there is no earthquake or volcano actually in process we can sit back and say, It all seems plain sailing. Plenty of time to reform my life.
But even if there were no judgment it would still be the best thing to live in union with God and His holy will.
We want to be ready anyway, not just to handle crises that might emerge, but because it is the best way to be. We have discovered the end (purpose) of our lives before the end (finish).
The ‘threat’ passages of the Bible are conditional. If enough people actually do repent the terrible things foreshadowed need not happen.
The passages are there just so the things they describe will not need to happen.
We can take all the trauma out of dying and judgment, just by getting things right in good time.
If we put it off and put it off eventually the time will run out. One more year will go by and we will no longer be here to wonder where it went. Where then, did we go?