(Luke 21:5-19) As the final days of the liturgical Church year draw to a close, we are reminded that the things of this earth are only temporary. They will pass away. Yes, it is true; the end is near. And like the man in the cartoon, we would all do well to consider whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.
After all, the opening words of today’s Old Testament reading are enough to instil fear into anyone’s heart: “See, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble.” Thank goodness the prophet does not end there! “But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings (Mal 4:1-2).” The end of life on earth, then, is only the beginning of our life in eternity. And for those of us who love God, this end is not just a very good thing – it is a reason for joy!
But first, we must endure difficult times. Jesus describes them in words that are all too familiar to us: there will be a proliferation of ideologies that will tempt us to forsake the truth of the Gospel, there will be wars and civil unrest, earthquakes, famines, and illness. Christians will be persecuted for their faith. It reads like the front page of the newspaper – or perhaps the latest story to hit the Internet.
If we place our trust in God, we needn’t be afraid. In eternity, God makes all things new. He will judge all people with equity. He will live with us, and we shall be His people. “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4). If this is what the end means, bring it on! Even though we may suffer for a short time, Jesus promises that not a hair of our heads will perish. Instead, “By your endurance you will gain your souls” (Lk 21:19).
– Sharon van der Sloot