Jesus says: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
He is speaking of the “end times.” As we approach the end of the liturgical year, many of our readings and prayers have that reality in mind. While we do not know the day or the hour or how exactly it will happen, what we do know by faith in Jesus is that this world will have an end.
“End” can also refer to “goal” or “completion.” We all share this goal and are directed toward the same end – eternal life in the kingdom of God.
Jesus’ words endure and they lead us on the journey of life. The “journey” image is a good one in that when we take a trip, we clearly have a destination in mind. Most people get excited about a trip, planning all the things they want to do, the sites they want to visit, the people they want to see and so forth.
The journey itself is also filled with excitement, offering new encounters and insights. These can help prepare us along the way, but it is in arriving at the destination that we find the greatest joy.
The readings for today’s liturgy remind us that there is an “end” or “goal” not only for our lives as individuals, but for the entire world. God is the destination and goal. In him, love and life are perfect or complete.
The first reading, which is from the Book of Daniel, reminds us that in the end God’s truth and justice will triumph over all evil and injustice. While we live in this world, we have to deal with hurt, pain, sickness and death. In our own lives, we struggle with our own sinfulness, weaknesses and imperfections. Our communities struggle with the same realities.
Sometimes evil seems insurmountable. Take for example the indiscriminate mass shootings that have occurred in the past few years in our country. We try to understand and comprehend such evil, but it eludes us. We argue at the causes and ways to handle and prevent it in the future, but a solution seems distant. Yet in then end, evil will be destroyed and the wise — those who seek God’s way — will live forever. Daniel says they “shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.”
God does not create us and then leave us to figure everything out for ourselves. While we all have to come to an awareness of and acceptance of the Lord who loves us, he helps us on the way. In fact, he makes himself known to us. The psalmist speaks of this when he writes: “You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.” God shows us the path to life, but we have to keep our minds, hearts and souls focused on him: “O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot. I set the Lord ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.”
In the Gospel passage, Jesus reminds us that this world will indeed come to an end. While we do not know the day or hour — only the Father knows this — we can be confident that it will come. The “end” which we seek is a good thing. Jesus shows us how to live a life prepared and readied for that day. He gives us his word and the words he gives endure and lead us to life.
Msgr. Joseph Prior is pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Penndel, and a former professor of Sacred Scripture and rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.
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