When we get to the end of the liturgical year, our readings from Scripture focus more and more on the “last days,” and so it is with our Scripture readings for today. In some ways, I find these readings sometimes difficult to completely understand. For instance, in our Gospel reading, when Jesus says, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,” it seems He is talking about when He comes again, at the end times. But when He says, “Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place,” it seems that He is speaking about His death and resurrection, and the fulfillment of God’s plan. And there are Scripture commentaries which uphold both interpretations.
And so I search for words that can help me today. For me, those words from Jesus are: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” For me, Jesus is saying to us, “Worldly and physical things, such as money and power and health will all pass away, but not my words of God’s love for you. God’s love will not pass away!” God’s love was there at the beginning of creation, and God’s love will be there for all eternity.
And so our choices in how we live right now might be oriented towards whether we wish to participate in what lasts, namely, the love of God in Jesus Christ, or in the things that will pass away. As I’ve said many times before, this choice is not offered lightly. When we get caught up into judgements of others, or fear or hatred, we are participating in attitudes that could not pass away soon enough! Our first reading from Daniel says, “But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” Some people ask why the Church should be interested in social justice, since we believers are “not of the world.” But we are “in the world,” and participating in God’s love involves doing what we can to make sure that people are treated fairly, and that they are not denied their rights or access to the necessities of life.
If we trust in God’s love, and are willing to share that love with all, I truly believe we will not bother spending a lot of time trying to figuring out when or where Jesus will come again. We won’t waste time wondering whether “they,” whoever “they” are, will be included in God’s plan of salvation. In the apocalyptic images that Jesus uses, He says “he will send out his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.” In other words, the “elect” will not be limited to one group or one area of the world.
May we hold on to Jesus’ words of love and peace and justice, and trust in God’s love, which will never pass away. May that love shine through us, and may we be the signs that He is near.
Fr. Phil, CP