Revelations 20:1-4, 11-21:2
When I was a young child, and would hear the words of the Book of Revelation, I would think of it a bit like one of today’s horror movies – frightening and a little unreal. I remember that I used to think that I certainly didn’t want to be around for this Second Coming that the Scriptures were talking about. I didn’t want to see all the dead coming back to life and dragons, and locusts, fires and torment. No way was that a future I wanted to experience.
It is easy to see why so many people generation after generation view Revelations as a prediction that the last days are upon us. Certainly in today’s world, with genocides, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, wars and so many other torments, these might be seen as signs of the end days.
Luke’s Gospel paints a different picture. In the verses just before today’s reading, he talks about how we will see the Son of God coming with power and great glory! Now, that would be something to witness!
And maybe we can take yet another meaning from these readings. Maybe all the horrible things happening in our world today are not a sign of the End Time, but rather an invitation to us to bring about the Kingdom of God here and now.
In a homily I recently heard, the Deacon who was preaching, was talking about the Kingdom of God and he said, "I don’t believe that the Kingdom of God is only in some faraway place; I believe the Kingdom of God is here in this Church, right here in this building."
I think when we hear about the tragedies of today, suffering or hunger, injustice and inhumanity, we are being called to make this true. In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty and perform the other works of mercy. When we do these things, we do indeed fulfill our destiny to be the Kingdom of God, and we can say "The Kingdom of God is near" regardless of whether the Second Coming is in our lifetime or far off in the future.
Mary Lou Butler is a former staff member and is now a member of the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center Board, Sierra Madre, California.