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The End is Near?
Gospel Reflection for Thursday, October 19, 2023
The Lord said:
"Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets
whom your fathers killed.
Consequently, you bear witness and give consent
to the deeds of your ancestors,
for they killed them and you do the building.
Therefore, the wisdom of God said,
'I will send to them prophets and Apostles;
some of them they will kill and persecute'
in order that this generation might be charged
with the blood of all the prophets
shed since the foundation of the world,
from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah
who died between the altar and the temple building.
Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!
Woe to you, scholars of the law!
You have taken away the key of knowledge.
You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter."
When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees
began to act with hostility toward him
and to interrogate him about many things,
for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.
Given the events unfolding in Israel and Palestine right now, the first thing that comes to mind in reading today’s Gospel is how frequently the region has seen violence throughout the centuries. In a historical context this war is just another one of many. But, of course that the weaponry of today and political alliances makes this war extremely dangerous. As I write this, today, truly, it seems we are on the brink of World War Three. The wars in Ukraine and Israel, and the threats of China toward Taiwan, seem to be drawing the world into a a much wider conflict. Regardless, this is not the end.
It seems that Protestants are always predicting the “End Times.” Sometimes Catholics fall into this trap, as well. For instance, in 1899, millions thought the world would come to an end at the stroke of midnight, January 1, 1900…. it did not. Soon after, millions thought Haley’s Comet signaled the end of time. Long before, when the Black Plague wiped out much of the population of Europe, people believed it was the end, and many in the 1900s believed the Polio epidemic was a Biblical plague from the Book of Revelation. In my lifetime, the computer issues of Y2K (the year 2000) were supposed to bring on the apocalypse. Now, it is potential nuclear war.
However, our Lord made clear, “no one knows the date or the hour.” The Catholic Church teaches that it is foolish and detrimental to worry about such things. Protestants talk about “the Rapture” in which Christians are supposed to be taken up to Heaven in the blink of an eye, while Satan wreaks havoc on the earth. That is not Catholic teaching… and really, the entire concept of the Rapture is barely 70 years old. No, for 2,000 years, orthodox Christian teaching has been that Jesus will come again at some time that no one can predict - the end of time. And, as Jesus said, “those who endure until the end will be saved.”
Our Lord promised us both suffering and salvation. He never said things would get easier, in fact, he said they would get worse. He said we would always have wars and rumors of wars, poverty, violence and strife, and that Christians would suffer especially. Catholic teaching is that we have been living in THE END TIMES since the Crucifixion. Indeed, the entire Revelation of Saint John can be seen as what happened following our Lord’s death. The veil of the Temple was torn, great earthquakes happened and a solar eclipse so dramatic that His executioners exclaimed, “Surely, this was the Son of God!” Israel was destroyed. The Temple was left in ruins. The Jewish people were dispersed throughout the earth and Christians suffered horrible persecutions under emperors such as Nero. Saint John was in exile, a prisoner, and it is Christian tradition that his Apocalypse was written in code and allegory, such as in calling Rome, Babylon, and the number 666 being the numerical value of Nero’s name. Another very valid teaching is that the book is symbolic of the Eucharist.
Regardless Protestants, having cut themselves off from history and tradition, read Revelations out of context and each has his own interpretation that he claims is inspired by the Holy Spirit. That is complete and utter nonsense. By their own reasoning that set the date of the end of the world at such points as 1900 (etc) the Bible also says that to God, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. By that logic, we are only 2 days past the Crucifixion. If human history were to end in the space of week, in God’s timing, our Sabbath would still be some 4-5 days, or up to 5,000 years off!
All that nonsense aside, individually our end may come at any moment. I could die of a sudden heart attack while writing this sentence. Leave the worrying about the fate of the world to God. Let our END TIMES be constantly before us, as we are reminded each Ash Wednesday. What we must due is, “endure until the end.” Let us trust in God and pray for peace.
Saint Irenaeus tells us:
And therefore did the Lord say to His disciples, to make us become good workmen: “Take heed to yourselves, and watch continually upon every occasion, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day shall come upon you unawares; for as a snare shall it come upon all dwelling upon the face of the earth.” “Let your loins, therefore, be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye like to men who wait for their lord, when he shall return from the wedding.” “For as it was in the days of Noe, they did eat and drink, they bought and sold, they married and were given in marriage, and they knew not, until Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all; as also it was in the days of Lot, they did eat and drink, they bought and sold, they planted and builded, until the time that Lot went out of Sodom; it rained fire from heaven, and destroyed them all: so shall it also be at the coming of the Son of man.” “Watch ye therefore, for ye know not in what day your Lord shall come.” [In these passages] He declares one and the same Lord, who in the times of Noah brought the deluge because of man’s disobedience, and who also in the days of Lot rained fire from heaven because of the multitude of sinners among the Sodomites, and who, on account of this same disobedience and similar sins, will bring on the day of judgment at the end of time (in novissimo); on which day He declares that it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that city and house which shall not receive the word of His apostles. “And thou, Capernaum,” He said, “is it that thou shalt be exalted to heaven? Thou shalt go down to hell. For if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained unto this day. Verily I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”
“Memento mori,” remember thy death, oh man.
Judson Carroll is the author of several books, including his newest, Confirmation, an Autobiography of Faith. It is Available in paperback on Amazon:
His new podcast is The Uncensored Catholic https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-uncensored-catholic