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THE END OF THE WORLD
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Sunday, 33rd Sunday of the Year, November 17, 2013
Mal. 3:19-20, Ps. 97, 2 Thess. 3:7-12, Luke 21:5-19


"As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down" (Luke 21:6).


Today Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem, which will be a preview of the end of the world and of his second coming in power and great glory. So when he finishes talking about the devastation of the holy city, he speaks of his glorious return and of the signs that will accompany it. Hearing about the end of Jerusalem is a warning for us to be prepared for the end of all things, so that we may leave off and confess our sins while we still have time, because after his coming and after our death we will have no more opportunity to repent and change our life. Then we will be judged. Let us now therefore call upon Christ, with faith in his saving death that expiates the sins of all who believe in him, especially when the merits of his death on the cross are communicated to us through the sacrament of reconciliation, which he left us for this purpose (John 20:22-23).


Then, with a clean conscience, we will wait in hope for the return of the Lord. On that day we will enter into the fullness of the kingdom of God. This will all begin for us personally when we die in Christ, for when we enter heaven we will enter into his presence and will see him as he is (1 John 3:2; Phil. 1:21, 23; 2 Cor. 5:6-8). But then at his Parousia all things will be brought to their final consummation, and all the elect of all the ages will rise together with us in risen and glorified bodies to live forever with the risen Christ in the New Jerusalem, city of gold and light. It is for all this that we now live. This is the end and goal of our earthly life. Therefore we try to live now in a way that is worthy of such an end. "And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure" (1 John 3:3).


Having been redeemed by the death of Christ, which paid for us our debt of suffering in punishment for the just forgiveness of our sins, we are to live a good life to be prepared for his coming; and may the Lord "establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints" (1 Thess. 3:13). Living in hope for that great day of his coming inspires and helps us to live a good life now so that we may enter into his glory at his coming and at our death.


What will the day of his coming be like? "There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:25-27).


On that day the stars will fall from the heavens, and the heavens will disappear. "The stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale; the sky vanished like a scroll that is rolled up" (Rev. 6:13-14). "All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree" (Isa. 34:4). "The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven ... and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matt. 24:29-31).


"The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:16-17). Then "we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor. 15:51-52). At the last trumpet blast, at the archangel's cry, all this will come about, and those who are saved will enter into the presence of God, and they "shall see his face" (Rev. 22:4). "When he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2).


The Lord gave us these descriptions of the end of the world to fill us with joyful expectation and eager longing so that we might confess our sins and live in a way worthy of all this, lest we lose ourselves amid the noise and dissipation of the world and forget God and our final end. Rather, let us be prepared now for his coming at any moment, whether at his Parousia or at our death. "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works" (Matt. 16:27 NKJV).


Let us therefore repent now while there is still time to repent and be forgiven, and let us live in a way worthy of this glory. "For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day" (Luke 17:24). He will light up the sky, and we shall enter into his glory. Let us live in the spell of that glory even now as best we can by a sane and sober way of life, so that we "may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ" (Phil. 1:10).


How then should we live to be prepared for the day of the Lord and for our death and our meeting with him? We are to love him with all our heart and find all our delight in him, and not seek it in the pleasures of the world that divide our heart and make us forget God. We should live far from worldliness, focused rather on God and the service of our neighbor. Our heart should not be weighed down and sluggish with the pleasures of the world, but rather be undivided in its love for the Lord. So "take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth" (Luke 21:34-35).


Let us live now in the spell of his coming with all our heart.

 

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