33rd Sunday: Preparing for the End
Hollywood thought it had hit upon a gold mine. The producers, directors, etc had found a way to combine religion and disaster themes into one movie that is came out a few years ago. The movie was titled, 2012. The premise was that the world was going to come to an end in 2012. As Hollywood hoped, a significant number of Americans, believed that there might be some truth to this. Hollywood prayed on the inordinate American fear of death and the tendency of many to live in a state of near panic. This is particularly true regarding those of us who believe the garbage that is passed on as news. So, the swine flu is going to get us all, or climate change is going to get us all, the government is going to get us all, etc. Remember twelve years ago while the rest of the world was celebrating the turn of the century, many Americans stayed home, preparing for the disaster that would be Y2K. The only disaster that happened is that the president at the time, Bill Clinton, spoke on TV for about 55 minutes, and we all almost missed the ball being dropped on Time Square.
We Americans are so gullible and live in such a state of expectant panic that if we hear that something horrible is going to happen and we learn that there is some sort of a religious reference, many of us believe whatever is presented. Then we come to Church on a Sunday at the end of the Church year and hear readings about the end of time. There are always readings about the end of time at this time of the year. Some will put these readings together with the 2012 thing and think there might be something to it. There isn’t. The premise of 2012 is based on a Mayan prophecy. The Mayan’s were pagans. Their world was ending before the Spanish came. The Spanish conquistadors accelerated it by assimilating the Mayan people into the Spanish colonial culture. We should not give credence to the rambling of pagans.
The readings we just heard have nothing to do with the Mayan Prophecies. They speak about the end of time but with a particular emphasis: those who trust in the Lord, and who live His life to the best of their ability have nothing to fear. Daniel says that the archangel Michael is the guardian of God’s people. We usually address this archangel as St. Michael. Daniel calls him, God’s Prince. So, we just heard that when the final days come, Michael will gather God’s people together including those who have died. And, the reading says, the wise will shine brightly. In the Gospel reading Jesus says that on the last day, the angels will gather the elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky. By the way, Jesus also says, that no one knows when the last day will come, not the angels, not even the Son, only the Creator, the Father.
The basic message, though, is, “Do not be afraid. Trust in God. He will care for you.” We need to do our best to get out of the fear mind set and live as people of the faith we profess. God is infinitely stronger than all the forces of the world. And He loves us. He loves us as a people. And He loves us as individuals. He loves us more than we can fathom. If we do everything we can to be open to His Presence, He will take care of us even if we were to be alive on the last day. St. Augustine put it this way, “If we do not resist the first coming of the Lord, then we will have no reason to dread His second coming.” By that he means if we live according to the way He told us to live when He came to be one of us, then we have no reason to fear when He comes again at the end of the world.
Perhaps many of us are not inordinately concerned about the end of the world. But each of us does have certain areas of fear in our lives. Some are afraid due to their health or that of a loved one. Maybe we are going to die sooner than we expect. Everyone dies sooner than she or he expects. Should we live in panic like the pagans, or should we trust in God to care for us? We need to trust in God. Some are afraid that their lives are not going to turn out as they hope. No one knows how our lives will turn out. I never thought I’d be a priest in Florida. I don’t know what is going to happen. I do know that my plans and God’s plans are often quite different. I am certain you can say the same thing. Where will each of us be 10 years from now, or 20 or 30 or 50? Fifty years from now I’ll be 115. I, for one, am hoping to be dead by then. But whatever the future brings, we have no reason to fear. We trust in God. We are Christian. We are people of Hope.
Today’s readings tell us that God is in control. We do our best to give ourselves to Him. He gave Himself to us for that very reason, so that we, in turn, can give ourselves to Him. As people united to the One who brings life through death, united to Jesus Christ, we trust our loving Savior to care for us.