As we approach the end of the Church year, the Scripture readings begin to call our attention to the end-times.
The readings remind us that Jesus came among us to inaugurate the kingdom of God. Through the sacrifice he offered on the cross, our sins have been forgiven and we have been reconciled with our Father. We have been given a share in Jesus’ new life and that makes us children of the kingdom of God who are journeying home to our Father’s house.
The Eucharist we celebrate allows us to share in the one sacrifice of Jesus, to open ourselves once again to the grace of salvation, to reconcile ourselves more deeply with our Father and with one another, and to be nourished with the bread of life for our continuing journey home.
The word and sacrament we share can help us to keep our minds and hearts focused on Jesus and his words to us. That focus will enable us to avoid the agitation and anxiety many people around us experience as we talk of the end times. We hear many claims about special revelations concerning the end of the world. The apocalyptic message of the Scriptures has always raised these kinds of claims. They disturb many good people. Jesus tells us very clearly: “By patient endurance you will save your lives.”
Jesus is telling us that regardless of the situation that surrounds us, we must persevere in following Him. Francis de Sales speaks similarly: Will there exist a society, a religion, an institution, or manner of living so secure that it is exempt from evil? Since this danger affects all, it is perilous to live in a world with those who do evil. In confronting evil, we must distinguish between actual events and imaginary fears. While God does not give strength for an imaginary conflict, God will certainly give us strength when the need arises. Many of God’s servants were frightened and almost lost courage in the face of imaginary danger. Yet, when the actual danger came, they conducted themselves with courage.
How should we deal with these times? First, it’s a time to be thankful. God’s plan of salvation is moving closer to its completion, as it does each day. It’s also a time for us to rededicate ourselves to living out our faith commitment more fully each day: praying for deeper faith in God’s continuing love for us and reflecting that love in the way we live with each other.
There’s really no reason for us to be afraid or become anxious about endings. We believe that the grace of salvation given to us in baptism, strengthened in us by confirmation, and nourished in us by Eucharist is leading us home to be with our Father. While death is an ending to our earthly existence, we already possess the gift of eternal life by God’s grace. Our only real end is to be with our God forever.
And you know, so long as we persevere in doing God’s will, God will make us victorious. Let us lay our good will before Our Lord, who will renew it so that we may have enough courage for our whole mortal life. Little children feel secure when they are in their mother’s arms. They feel that nothing can harm them provided they are holding her hand. Although times may frighten us, we too must hold the hand of our “God Almighty,” who protects us and makes us secure.
So, let us take heart and patiently resolve to live each day with faith. Let us love our God with our whole being and love one another as Jesus has loved us. Our patient endurance will lead us to salvation. In this way, our journey home will be a safe and sure one.