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(Part 69)


November 26, 2013
Today’s gospel: Luke 21:5-11

We are living in the end times.[1] Jesus was asked about the sign of the end. Jesus said, “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” (v.9). Wars have swept through the face of the earth through the centuries, some world wars, some regional or local wars. Insurrections, armed conflicts within a nation or territory, have also been commonplace. Men have taken the lives of other men, either foreigners or their own countrymen, in violation of God’s command against killing.

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (v. 10). Today we see such wars of nations against other nations, and coalitions of nations against a particular nation. Today there is great potential for greater wars due to turbulent conflicts in the world, whether in Syria or in Iran or in the many trouble spots in the world. There are great conflicts within nations, people fighting with and killing their own people, such as in Iraq, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo. Radical Islamists are killing Christians. Sunnis and Shiites are killing each other. Minorities are rising up against national governments. The threat of nuclear war hovers on the horizon.

“There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place” (v.11a). More and more we are experiencing natural calamities, whether bush fires that rage for days in America or Australia, or a category-5 typhoon that lashed the Philippines. Hunger is a constant threat to life, especially in places like in parts of Africa. The threat of drug-resistant plagues is constant. The plague of HIV/AIDS and STDs are already upon the whole world.

The whole world is in a mess, and it is man’s doing. God created a beautiful and bountiful world that was to provide richly for His creatures, reflecting paradise in which He reigns. But we have turned the earth into hell, an experience of the absence of God, living in darkness and sin, being in conflict with brothers, violating nature, being in rebellion against God.

Even for the Israelites, the chosen people of God, whom God blessed tremendously, their worship was empty and hypocritical. While “the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings” (v.5), supposed to reflect the glory of God in their midst, they had made it a den of thieves. As the dwelling place of God is not in wood or stone but in the pure hearts of His people, Jesus prophesied, “All that you see here--the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” (v.6). Indeed Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Today, earthquakes and powerful storms destroy centuries-old churches, much to our dismay and sorrow. But is not God speaking powerfully to us?

Even as God speaks to us, we must discern His authentic voice, for there will be many false prophets, especially during the end times. Jesus warns us, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them!” (v.8). Indeed today there are many false prophets, harping on the end times, who will not bring people back to God but will bring them to their own human ministries, for their own selfish and even diabolical purposes.

These are the end times, and we need to work harder in bringing people back to God and back to the authentic Church that Jesus founded. This is the work of the New Evangelization. As to the end, we do not have to keep asking, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” (v.7). We do not have to wait until the return of Jesus is imminent. We do our work now, with great urgency. And if his return is delayed, then all the more we have that additional time with which to do our work.

It will be that “awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” (v.11b). The most awesome and mighty will be Jesus coming in great glory. That is the time of our greatest rejoicing. But that is also the time when our work will be done, and there is nothing more we can do, except to exult joyfully in the Lord. All those who are saved and who will enter into eternal life will already have been determined by that time.

But now, still awaiting that glorious moment, we do our work. Onward to the New Evangelization!

* * *

[1] With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day. Thus, while we are already living in the end times, it does not mean Jesus will return any time soon. Perhaps he will, perhaps not. Perhaps it might be another century or even another millennium.
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