The End is Near
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C
“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.”
Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
He answered, “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!
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.”
Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”
Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
Donald Trump is now the 45th President of America. He took the world by surprise. Whether he is fit for the presidency of the most powerful hegemony in the world is up for discussion. The USA as a democratic society gave its voice. Across the Pacific, social media in the Philippines is abuzz with different reactions. Some were happy for Trump, some were outraged he won, and some others asked why we should be concerned.
Scrolling down my feed, I saw one post decrying the events that have recently happened. The Supreme Court of the Philippines gave no legal block to the interment of the late President Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Now, Trump is the US president-elect. It was too much for the poster. I gave my own thoughts suggesting a morbid thought. Could it be that the end of the world is coming?
We do not know. I wrote it in jest. But the question of when the end of the world will come has always been an exciting question for some. The apocalypse has always been an interesting topic. See how many movies we have with that theme. The future is always up for speculation. Even Jesus peered into it.
We have to be aware that what Jesus spoke of is not exactly our concept of the end of the world. When Jesus speaks of the “time”, he means a period of fulfillment of what has already been written in Scriptures, of God’s promises. He spoke of these things with his disciples because he knew they were part of that fulfillment. But they were to concerned of the glory of the present they needed to be reminded of the glory of the end.
This prophecy were written in order to warn the disciples of the cost of their commitment in Christ. But they were written in such a way that it also warns the early Christians who have also put their faith in Christ. These are the Christians who were the first audience of the gospels. St. Luke was warning them about impending persecutions. But he also wrote for us today. St. Luke knew that a commitment to Christ necessarily puts you at odds with the world. In the world, when you are different you are most likely persecuted. Being Christian is basically being counter-cultural.
If President Duterte, President Marcos, and President-elect Trump are dividing public opinion it is because they touch something in our lives that matter to us. Jesus Christ touches our whole lives that is why our witnessing is to be total and with it the persecution of the world. Just bearing his name is enough for us to suffer even in our times. That is the end that Jesus paints for his disciples.
He speaks not of celestial wonders but of conflict because the end, the omega, is a period of purification. It comes to mind now that Jesus is the alpha and the omega. He is the point of conflict when the “time” has come. Because when our “time” has come our commitment to Jesus will be tested. Will we remain faithful to him even if following him and his teachings is against the public opinion of the world? Are we willing to sacrifice familial ties because of our faith? Are we willing to give up our lives for Jesus?
Our end is certain. We will have to face our own death in the future. The end of the world is certain. Nothing in the universe lasts forever. Time ravages everything. But in this bleak outlook Jesus assures us of his presence and help. Despite the persecutions and hate, our commitment and perseverance in him will secure our salvation. At first sight this future looks bleak and scary because it involves the present world passing away. What Jesus is indirectly saying is that in its place is a new world that will be established in Jesus’ love. It is exactly in this love that we pass through purification and emerge victorious. This new world that we are hoping for is in Jesus.
Individually we pass through our periods of purification in Christ. A crisis comes into our life that tests our Christian commitment. Health, family, and financial problems come to raise questions we cannot answer but can only be faced with faith in Christ. Of course we also believe in the collective end of the present world when the “time” comes and the fulfillment is final and complete. As Jesus said, none will know when except the Father.
What he is proposing to us is that we put our end not in the transition of our world into the new, not in wonders and signs, but in his very person. Jesus is our omega. Being baptized as Christians we start to move toward this End. Living our Christian commitment will attract persecution but it will also bring us closer to the End. The End is near indeed. It is Jesus to whom we have given our ‘yes’ before and for whom we live that commitment.