Are we approaching the end of time?

by Shiu Lan
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Daniel 12:1 - 3

Hebrews 10:11 - 14, 18

Mark 13:24 - 32

This Sunday’s Gospel Reading is a very interesting passage in which Jesus spoke to his disciples about the end of time. With the increasing frequency and severity of the natural disasters in the recent past, people see these unusual phenomena as a sign of the end of the world although scientists have concluded that the real reason is that we have not been taking good care of the environment. We have in fact been exploiting the planet on which we live. This has become a topic of conversation and even concern to a lot of people, whether or not they have a religious belief. People have started making predictions about the end of the world and when it would happen. Indeed, Jesus told us that all these - wars, earthquakes, famines, sufferings, family rising against one another, people rising against people (Mark 13:7-8, 12) - would happen before the end of time. He said “when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near” (Mark 13:29). When we look around, what Jesus said seems to be happening now.

As we can see, despite all the abuses we human beings have collectively done to the earth and to each other, none of the predictions about the end of the world have come true. The people who make such predictions claim to know the future. But they don’t really know because Jesus said “But about that day or hour no one knows …. But only the Father” (Mark 13:32)

At the end of time, the Son of Man will come again “with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26) to judge the living and the dead. When that happens, we want to be among the elect that the Son of Man will send his Angels to gather “from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven”. (Mark 13:27) How may we merit to be counted among the elect? Luke 21:36 tells us how: “Be alert at all times, praying that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man”. We must watch our lives to make sure that we live by the words of Jesus that He promised would not pass away. (Mark 13:31) If we live out the Gospels, if we live according to the teachings of the Church, then we have no fear and may look forward to the end of time with faith and hope.

Meanwhile as we wait in joyful hope for Jesus’ coming in glory, it is quite inevitable that we will have to endure sufferings one way or the other in this world of calamities. Jesus told us that our earthly journey will be so. When we need consolation and grace to see us through our difficult journey in life, we know that Jesus will not forsake us. Let us be reminded of our Lord’s endless mercy and compassion for us in these uplifting verses from the beautiful Chinese hymn “Praise to the Lord’s Benevolence”

“He has not promised that the sky will always be blue,
He has not promised that flowers will always be in bloom,
But He has promised that He will always be benevolent”