Apocalypse Now: Or how I learned to stop worrying about the End and began to yearn for it.
Prophecy of St. Malachy...
The Mayan calendar...
The Jehovah's Witnesses...at least 8 different times.
Throughout history humanity has been trying to predict the end of the world with the reckless enthusiasm displayed only by the clinically insane and true believers. I find it comical that in this pursuit many Christians choose to conveniently ignore the words of Jesus Christ himself: “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32)
I think the reason we obsess about the end of the world is simple and ultimately speaks loudly about the most basic struggle we deal with in our faith journey. This struggle has everything to do with the verse that follows the above one: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:33) I don't think I would be exaggerating if I said that most, if not all of us, have a hard time with letting go of our need for control.
We desperately want to control our reality, to make it manageable and nonthreatening. It is that need for control that drives us to want to pinpoint when the end will come, so that it may fit nicely somewhere in the schedules of our lives. If we could predict the end of the world then we could get a hold on our anxiety about not knowing where we are headed (both physically and spiritually). If we know when the end will come then we can postpone giving ourselves over to the process of conversion until it is absolutely imperative; in a sense, knowing when the end will be, often becomes the temptation to put our relationship with the Lord on layaway until we are “ready” for it. We fool ourselves into thinking that knowing the time and day will somehow alleviate our anxieties about...well...everything.
"Be watchful” means that I have to be continually engaged, getting to know “He who comes,” so that when He does come I can recognize Him and welcome Him. To worry about when the end is, is pointless. We know we won't figure out when end is until its here. If we treated every day as though it is our last, if we lived the Gospel, then the end would not be such a scary prospect. A life that is lived in expectation of Heaven is not afraid of what it is going to “miss out on” on this earth, or what it won't accomplish. In fact, living every day as though it is your last is humbling, because it is a recognition of our need for God, a letting go of what does not matter and the embracing of the realities that last. Our need for control ultimately points to the fact that our earthly pursuits, our earthly possessions, our earthly desires are much more real to us than the spiritual realities we profess and shows our fundamental distrust of God and therefore our need to enter into a deeper relationship with Him. Living our Faith fully cultivates that relationship and creates in us a yearning for the end... “thy kingdom come...” the joyful expectation to be with Christ and the prospect of eternity in the presence of God. In the end, whether the world ends today, tomorrow or forty thousand years from now for each of us the end could come at any point, so stop worrying and start living. Because here is the thing, Jesus says the darnedest thing about this: "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it."
- Fr. Alejandro Puello