Many years ago as I was walking through Times Square in New York City, a man was standing there holding a sign announcing the end of the world. He was warning everyone of impending doom. There was a specific date on his sign on which the end was supposed to occur. I cannot recall that particular date now, but it really doesn’t matter. Whatever the date was, it has since come and gone.
Just before the year 2000, I travelled with my mom to Israel. During a part of our trip we encountered heightened security because of a number of fanatics who thought that the end was coming with Y2K. The Israeli security troops told us that many crazed people were going to Megiddo—thought by some to be the sight of biblical Armageddon (Rev. 16:16) and were committing suicide there. Their end came, but the end (of the world) obviously never arrived.
Now there are those who warned us to prepare for May 21, 2011 or December 21, 2012. I’m always ever-so-suspect when I see web sites selling t-shirts and survival kits for one or the other occasion.
Truth be told, we should always be prepared for our own end. Jesus warned us over and over again in parables like the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Mt. 25: 1-13). Jesus concludes His teaching there by saying, “. . . stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
In another passage Jesus tells us the following:
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few. (Mt. 7: 13-14)
From these and many other passages like them from Sacred Scripture, I know to be ready. Conversion, repentance for sin and vigilance are a major part of the Christian message, as are love, forgiveness, Resurrection and eternal life.
Our own end will come soon enough. Depending on our age, it could come in ten, twenty, thirty years or more. It could come tomorrow. It could come in an hour or less after reading this.
What do we do to prepare for our own end? We need to live out the Gospel message in our daily lives. We need to cling to Jesus. And if we are doing this, then we can follow the advice of Blessed John Paul II which he proclaimed repeatedly during his pontificate: Be not afraid!
A story is told about St. Francis of Assisi who was out hoeing his garden. When someone asked him what he would do if he were suddenly to learn that he would die before sunset that very day, he simply replied, "I would finish hoeing my garden."
Follow the Lord Jesus.
Be not afraid.
Skip the t-shirts and survival kit.
Fr. Ed Namiotka