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Nearing the End Times

As we near the end of the Church (Liturgical) Year, our Sunday readings are focused on the end times. At first glance, it sounds like doom and gloom: battles between Michael, God’s prince and the guardian of Israel, and the powers of darkness; the darkening of the sun and moon; stars falling from the sky. The world as we know it will end.

Why do we fear the end times? It seems that whenever we hear the visions of Daniel or read the book of Revelation or recall Jesus’ words about the end times, our first reaction is fear. We fear the darkening of sun and moon and the falling of stars from the sky (Mk 13:24-25). We fear the possibility of everlasting horror and disgrace (Dn 12:1-2). We fear the unknown hour (Mk 13:32). Perhaps our fear of the end times stems from our need for control. We want to die on our own terms. We want to control how our world evolves. We want to know when and how the world will end.

When we hear the apocalyptic visions of Daniel or Revelation or Jesus’ words about the end times, we have no reason to fear. We should, rather, live with trust in the knowledge that God’s mercy is greater than all our sins and God constantly calls us to repentance and reconciliation, and look forward with hope to an eternal future with Christ our King. Our hope stems not only from our knowledge of God’s love and mercy, however; we have already been marked as God’s chosen ones.

We were marked with the sign of faith through Baptism and Confirmation. In Baptism, we were claimed for Christ with the Sign of the Cross on our foreheads. We have died to sin and death and have been born into new life in Christ through the waters of Baptism. We were sealed with the Holy Spirit with the anointing of sacred chrism in Baptism and Confirmation. We are the elect (Mk 27); our names are written in the book (Dn 12:1). We have nothing to fear. We need only accept God’s saving grace and surrender our lives to God’s love. Let us, therefore, look forward to Christ’s coming with hope rather than with fear.

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