“THE END OF TIME”: HOMILY FOR THE 33RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR (B)
REV. FR. BONIFACE NKEM ANUSIEM PhD.
There is one basic rhythm in life; whatever has a beginning will logically have an end. The preacher made it more appealing when he said: “for everything under the earth there is a season” (Ecclesiastes. 3:1). The fact of a beginning runs through the old and new testaments (Gen.1:1; John 1:1); there is also an opening to the end of the world as testified by Daniel in the Old Testament (Daniel 12:1-13) and our Lord Jesus Christ and St. Paul in the New Testament (Matt.24:15-29; 1Thess.5:1-11).
From the time our Lord Jesus Christ gave a hint about the end of the world through the teachings of St. Paul about the second coming of Jesus Christ like a “thief”, the known world has been living in unsettling expectation to the extent that we have more than 200 recorded predictions about the end of the world; but the end is yet to come! These are some of the prominent predictions:
- Montanus’ prediction: Montanus was an early heretic who emerged about the 2nd half of the 2nd century in Phrygia Asia Minor with the idea that he received a special revelation from the Holy Spirit announcing the imminent end of the world. People were asked to forfeit their material belongings and wait for the New Jerusalem coming to what is now known as Turkey. This did not happen.
- Jehova’s Witness Religion. The founder of the sect Charles Taze Russell reckoning with the prophecy of Daniel maintained that the world would end by 1914. When it did not come to pass the sect chose successive dates like 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, and 1994.
- The Millerites’ Prediction: The founder of the movement, a New England farmer William Miller, claimed that he received a message that the world would end on April 23, 1843. That date passed smoothly and peacefully.
- The Mormon’s Prediction: The founder of the Church of Latter- Day Saint (Mormons) Joseph Smith claimed that God told him that the world would end in 1891. But the world did not end.
- Seventh Day Adventist: The founder of the SDA Church, Ellen G. White, on June 27th 1850 said that the world would end after a few months. When this did not happen she shifted it to 1856 or later.
- Pat Robertson: In May 1980, the televangelist using the platform of 700 club TV Show startled and alarmed the world that the end would come by the end of 1982; but here we are, 2012!
- Nostradamus: The Apothecary (Pharmacist) is known all over the world for his numerous predictions. Translators of his prophecies believed that the world would end in 1999 because he wrote: “The year 1999, Seventh month from the sky will come the great king of terror. 1999 did not mark the end of the world!
- The Y2K JANUARY 1, 2000: The growth and spread of computer not only thrilled the world but also brought about the fear that computers will be attacked by a bug because of the turning in of four digits (2000). It was believed that this would in turn bring about the destruction of the world and the end of time. There was tension around the world as the new millennium was about to come. Suddenly January 1 2000 emerged (though some countries entered before others) without any sign of neither a bug nor an end of the world.
- The Three Days Darkness: Within the anticipation of the new millennium and within the new millennium itself some people claimed to have received messages pointing to three days of darkness which the whole world would experience. Survival would be by means of blessed candles, hence people advanced to buy and have cartons of candles blessed. Some people were even moving about with candles hoping that they would see the match box or lighter to light them.
- God’s Church Ministry: The founder Ronald Weinland in his book of 2006 announced that the world would pack up in 2008. But the world could not end that year.
11. Harold Camping: Using the medium of the family radio Oakland California, Camping announced that the rapture would take place on May 21, 2011 with God taking 3% of the world population as those to be saved. Consequently he predicted that by October 21, 2011 the world would end finally. Am sure we are in November 2012. Later on he said that on that May 21, 2011 what happened was spiritual rapture and that God is giving us time (which is not a new message anyway).
- December 21, 2012: The latest prediction puts the rapture and end of the world on the 21st of December 2012; actually few days from now. This according some “experts” is based on the Mayan calendar (the oldest calendar still in use) which will end on the 21st of December 2012.
We could spend the entire space recounting prophecies of the end of the world, their proponents and the accompanying failures; the list is long. In any case all the predictions overlooked the statement of our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew (24:36): “No one knows, however, when that day and hour will come- neither the angels in heaven nor the Son the Father alone knows”. (See also Mk.13:32).
On the other hand, those who had been gullible with the predictions of the doomsday prophets seem to forget that our Lord Jesus Christ said: “Be on your guard and do not let anyone deceive you. For many will come in my name, saying I am the Christ and will deceive many”. (Matthew 24:4-5). In another place (Matthew 24:23-25) he says:
If anyone says to you Look here is the Messiah! Or there he is do not believe him. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear; and they will perform great miracles and wonders in order to deceive even God’s elect if possible. Listen I have told you this before it happens.
The end is sure but should it be productive of fear or faith? Should we be worried about the end of time or about living good and acceptable lives? St. Paul had to battle with a similar scenario at various points because people were aimlessly starring at the sky waiting for the second coming of the Lord. In his first letter to Timothy (I Tim.6:14-15) he advised that people should focus on obeying the commandments faithfully until the Lord comes again at the right time appointed by God.
There are basically two reasons why people obey rules; one is positive while the other is negative. One is out of love, commitment and appreciation while the other is out of fear of being punished. In some countries in West Africa for instance, some people scramble for their seat belts while driving when they sight Road Safety Workers on the way; this is obedience out of fear of punishment rather than appreciation of the need for safety. We should be moved to be in heaven by our love for God, our appreciation for His goodness and commitment to doing His will than the fear of going to hell and being eternally punished. We should be sustained by heavenly faith than by hellish fear!
As the liturgical and calendar year draws to an end we are reminded that we are in this world for a moment! There is an end in view. Actually when anyone of us dies his or her time comes to an end. Evidently none of us has the gift of forever. In any case we should be more concerned about eternity than the fear of the end of the world which is sure to come but at a divinely appointed time not by human predictions. The question that could be more productive is: “How ready I am if the Lord should come today will I be saved severed?” More so we are called upon to announce the end of sin and disobedience than the end of the world! Be it 21st of December 2012 or later we should be ever ready!
Have a glorious Sunday and a happy week ahead!