We are in the “end times” of the Liturgical Year of the Church. If you, like me, closely follow the entire Liturgical Year (Advent to the Feast of Christ the King), we see that it follows a clear path. Awaiting the arrival of Jesus into the world; his ministry and teaching; Lent, our time of purification while approaching Christ’s suffering in Holy Week and the triumph of his resurrection at Easter; into Ordinary Time when we deepen our faith in and knowledge of Jesus. It all has a purpose.
These last few days before the start of Advent, focus on the “end times.” The long, descriptive reading from Daniel (kinda scary) about kingdoms being destroyed and nothing will stand, and the apocalyptic words of Jesus in the Gospel telling of wars, insurrections, and false prophets, not to mention earthquakes, famines, and plagues! It’s enough to send you back to bed, cover-up, pull your pillow over your head and hope for the best!
Reading the scriptures in these days sounds much like the state of the world today. Twenty-four-hour news cycles bring us everything going on in the world. We have wars everywhere, countries (kingdoms) fight other countries, religions against other religions, ideology battling ideology, and natural disasters. But is this unique to our time? Certainly not. Throughout human history, there have been wars and grave disagreements, and nature wreaking its havoc. And, yet, here we are, in 2019, still here, albeit still battling each other. Major wars in the world or major wars in our relationships with others. It’s all the same, on and on and on.
So, where is the good news? Where are the awesome signs?
Daniel tells us, “In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people.” And our Alleluia verse from Revelations reminds us: “Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
The marvelous and wonderous sings in the sky will be our constant faith and hope in Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Our Way, Our Life and Our Deliverer from everything that can, and sometimes will happen to us. Nothing can hurt or destroy us as long as we cling to him who promises us all good things in the end. Oh, we may be beaten at times, suffering from the effects of the circumstances surrounding us. But our bodies cannot be pushed into the ground as long as our hearts and souls belong to Jesus. We will be delivered to the crown of life in the end.
In spite of all we see and hear going on in this world, we can find peace. Much of that peace will come in the form of our loving assistance to those who genuinely are suffering the effects of the wars and the natural disasters. Where do they get their hope? They get it from their faith in God and from our generous assistance to their needs, helping to relieve suffering and rebuild lives. We are the bright, wondrous signs in the sky!
Don’t let the false prophets, harbingers of “end times” wear you down to where you do nothing but sit tight and await the Second Coming, or your natural end of life. None of them has been right yet, and none of them ever will. Instead, use your time to bolster your faith and exercise your freedom to live in faith with courage. No one need live in fear of the end. You need only to know that God will be with you to strengthen you in your trials. Oh, you can still run to your bed and cover yourself in fear, but then you will not see the Wonderous Signs in the sky, where God’s kingdom alone will endure.
Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager at Diocesan, is a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. Jeanne has worked in parish ministry as an RCIA director, in Liturgy, and as a Cantor. Working word puzzles and reading fill her spare time. Jeanne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.