As our liturgical year comes to an end, the readings today are focused on the end of times. Some people are frightened to hear what may happen, but for those who trust and believe in God, it should be a time to rejoice, and to remember our responsorial psalm today: “You are my inheritance, O Lord.” When scriptures refer to the end of times, it is the final end of times, that is when our God will come and meet and embrace us forever.
Whenever we hear about the “latest fashion,” everybody knows that it will last for a short time. Sooner or later it will be replaced by another one, which may not last for a long time. On the other hand, when we see the word: “last” in the Bible, it has a very strong connotation because it refers to what will stay, it will be no longer be any other way.
The apocalyptic language easily causes confusion. In English, we associate “apocalyptic” with that which is tragic and affects many people at the same time, such as devastation, a bomb of great power, an earthquake, a landslide. The word apocalypse means “revelation,” or more precisely: de-veiling. Apocalyptic literature is a way of reading the whole of human history to answer the question: and in the end what remains of all this?
But, the message is not of devastation but of hope. What is involved in this kind of literature is to claim that the ultimate outcome cannot exclude God but actually belongs to Him. Even when we see that very great powers are raised against God, even when we see that a fierce battle is developed before our eyes, and even when we see that many have to surrender to their lives to be consistent in their faith; even after all this, we can be sure that it is worthwhile to teach justice, as it says in the first reading today.
The important thing for us, leaving the details to the experts of the Bible, is that the Lord invites us to look at the signs of the times and to recognize that the final victory is preceded by all kinds of events and situations that touch all aspects and levels of our lives, our world, and our history.
Faith, then, is much more than one among many methods to behave well in society and be able to live with others. Believing is not just being a good person; it is to understand and proclaim that there is one who is Lord, and that his lordship encompasses everything.
Finally, I pray that this Thanksgiving Day, we may reflect on what God has done for us, and how we can help others to experience God’s mercy and love.
In Christ Jesus,
Fr. Oscar Mendez, OFM
Associate Pastor, Mission San Luis Rey Parish