Seeds of the Future
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Do we fear the future? The future is an unknown. We usually fear what is unknown. To make the future more controllable we make projections. We speculate. We make scenarios. We insure ourselves for contingencies. This holds true for the great unknown that is the “end times”.

Action starter: Are you prepared?

When I was still a parish priest, there would be times when people flocked to the church to have candles blessed. When I inquired why, I was told that only blessed candles would remain lighted when the end of the world comes. Somebody told them that the end was near. Does it matter if one has a lighted candle or not at the end of the world? Did this mean only those with blessed candles would be saved? That seemed to be the implication. We also know of members of some religious sects who were told to go to a special mountain and wear white clothes to prepare for the end of the world. Some poor believers sold their land and cattle to go to this special place. Until now they are waiting for the end of the world while somebody else tills their land.

If the end is near, what do we have to fear? Everything ends. Our own life will end. This month of November is full of reminders about the reality of our pilgrim journey on this earth. We have communed with our faithful departed when we visited their graves. We affirmed the communion of saints. One cemetery does not use euphemisms to talk of death. As one enters the gates these words greet the visitor, “Today it’s us, tomorrow it will be you.”

Perhaps what makes the “end times” fearful are the cataclysms that the Lord describes, using the traditional imageries, “In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken” (Mk 13:24). I must admit that in August 1976, I thought the end of the world has come with the great earthquake and the accompanying tsunami that killed thousands in our area of the country. It was midnight when we awoke to a loud rushing sound that accompanied the quake. The moon was red as we ran out of our rooms and clung to the big pine trees for protection. I heard one of my students reciting the Lord’s Prayer but could not seem to complete it. We thought that was the end.

As we end the church year and before we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, we are reminded of the “end times”. The Gospel’s apocalyptic imagery describes the triumph of Jesus the Lord, “And they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory...”

A new age will come as symbolized by the sprouting of the leave of the fig tree that announce the beginning of a new season. . The “end times” is not really the end. It is a beginning. It is a new creation. It is the coming of a new heaven and a new earth. Our confession of faith includes our belief in the resurrection of the body. On a cosmic level shouldn’t this mean the resurrection of the earth?

Just as we call graduation ceremonies as Commencement Exercises, perhaps a more fitting name for the end of the world is the “re-creation of the world”. Then we would not be so fearful, Instead we will look forward to it with hope and joyful expectations. Set aside the candles, the white clothes, or the special mountain. When we do the best we can everyday to please God and be in harmony with others, then we can meet God as we are. No fear.