Have you ever been on a beautiful vacation? Did you ever go out for an exciting dinner with family and friends or being out to see a blockbuster movie? All these activities share one common phenomenon; they all had an ending point beyond the excitement they created for the recipients while they lasted.
The cemetery evokes a lot of feelings for people. It gives information about burial spots and tells us that life as we know it has an end. Essentially, there are three significant points of every life: the beginning, the middle (our current location), and the end, which we all await.
In the Gospel of this last but one Sunday of the Liturgical Year (Mark 13:24-32), our Lord Jesus Christ takes us on a scary instructional cruise through some events that would mark the end of the world.
From the narrative, we learn that the sun, the source of light and sustenance of earthly life, would be darkened. As a result, the moon would not light, the stars would malfunction, and the other heavenly bodies would lose their grounds.
Following the phenomenal shifts of the solar system, the Son of man would show up with great power and glory, commanding the angels to gather his elect from every corner of the earth and beyond.
This discourse could have been very disturbing for the immediate audience of our Lord Jesus Christ as it has been through various generations. We could recall that St. Paul had to caution the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 2:1-2) not to be alarmed as if the day were very imminent as some preachers were indicating.
The Distress or Tribulation before the End
Our Lord’s teaching in the Gospel narrative is related to the oracle of Daniel (12:1-3) almost five hundred years earlier, which talks about a time of unsurpassed distress that would lead to the rescue of some to everlasting life while damning others to endless horror and disgrace.
One important factor runs between the predictions of Daniel and Jesus. It would come after a time of great distress or tribulation. Notably, the phenomenon of distress or tribulation in this context means a period of faith trial. The Gospel of Matthew (24:10-13) makes it more apt:
Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase in lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But anyone who endures to the end will be saved.
One could be tempted to think that the time of distress or tribulation that will precede the end is yet to come; no, it is here already. An attentive look into our world today shows that we are in the region of distress or tribulation. Are we not experiencing faith betrayal in various forms and shapes? Do we not have false prophets leading most people astray with all sorts of strange doctrines (Hebrews 13:9)?
What about spiritual lawlessness that is evident in human society? Do we not see a lot of coldness in the love of people to things of God, especially among some of the younger generation who rely more on technology’s excellence than on God? Only those who stand firm in their faith conviction would hold on to the end.
This Generation would see the End!
One of the statements of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel says: “this generation will not pass until all these things have taken place”. One can imagine that the generation that received these words initially believed that the Lord was speaking directly to them, and they were not wrong.
One thing we should recall is that God and His words transcend our human timing and scheduling. The Psalmist tells us that in the sight of God, a thousand years is like yesterday come and gone (Psalm 90:4). When Jesus was making that statement, he referred to that generation and all the future generations that would fall into the divine arrange until the actual end of time, known only to God.
Moving Forward: How do we Prepare for the End?
Some time ago, there was a global scare about an imminent end of the world, preceded by “three days darkness.” It was not settling news for many people like the other failed predictions about the end of the world. So people were buying and blessings cartons of candles as preparation to withstand the siege of the darkness.
The real darkness is the life of sin, and the ideal light is Christ, whose presence in our lives would dispel every form of darkness. Therefore, instead of worrying and fretting over the end of the world, we should be more concerned about living righteous lives and ending our lives in righteousness.
Finally, we should aim at meeting God in heaven out of our Love for Him and not out of the fear about what is to come upon the earth at a time and season we do not know. Instead, we should function within the ambiance of what God wants from us: knowing God, loving, and serving him in faith and hope.
God bless you, and have a blessed and fruitful week ahead.