Our Scripture readings for today speak about the end times. Our reading from Revelation has a vision of two angels reaping a harvest from the earth: one to gather those who are to be saved; the other to gather those who are condemned. In our Gospel reading from Luke, Jesus foretells the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. He also tells them about signs indicating the end of the world: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place."
Throughout the centuries, people have looked at the turmoil going on in the world, and have wondered whether the events of their time were THE signs of which Jesus spoke. As we look upon the events of our time, we may be wondering the same thing.
Even though I may worry too much about this or that detail of my life or ministry, I don’t find speculation about whether these are the end times or not, very helpful. In other parts of the Gospel Jesus tells the people that they do not know the time or the hour in which all these things will occur.
If we can accept the love God has for us in Jesus Christ, and if we are willing to follow Jesus, and work for the building up of the kingdom, then, I believe, the events of the world need not cause us to fear, but call us to love. While there is war, we are called to work for peace. While there are famines, we are called to feed the hungry. While there are people devastated by natural disasters, we are called to reach out to them, and to all those who are oppressed by poverty and violence.
May God give us the grace to be faithful disciples, in troubling times or not, until the time when we may be with God forever.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P. is the director of St. Paul of the Cross Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.