Today’s Gospel from Luke (21:5-19) paints a bleak picture. Although it is written to suggest that these “signs” of the end of the world will occur sometime in the future, in reality Luke was describing life in the first century Palestine. For the past two thousand years, each era has had its own experience of “the end.” In the first three centuries, Roman rule and persecution gave the appearance that the end was near. In the fifth and sixth centuries, the “Dark Ages” caused concern among the people. Whenever plague or natural disaster or war was prevalent, people felt that the end was near. Even today, some preachers claim that we are now in the end times. The fact remains: we do not know the day nor the hour when the Lord will come again.
The theme of these past few weeks has been “be prepared.” Take note of what is happening around you and see how it affects you spiritually. Do threats of war or economic collapse or natural disaster cause you concern? Why? Are you concerned about health care, retirement or the college fund for your children? Why? Many of these same issues were faced by our parents or grandparents and they will have an impact on our children and grandchildren as well. In other words, these things are not new. History is cyclic: people in every age face the same kinds of problems albeit with a modern twist or with improved technology.
The one constant that remains is how we approach life from a spiritual perspective. Do these issues make us more dependent upon God? Do we try to become more prayerful and charitable as a result? Or have we become more self-serving and insulated from others?
When we are faced with difficulty and challenge are we more apt to engage in the “blame game” or do we step up to the plate and use our own resources as well as our relationship with God to weather the storm? The “end times,” whenever they occur, should not be cause for alarm, but should invite us to joy. We cannot prevent the end from happening, but we can determine our role in it. Are we prepared to share our gifts and talents to assist others in encountering the Lord?
May each one of us truly embrace our calling to be with the Lord at all times.