Another friend on Facebook this weekend was bemoaning all the struggles in the world right now. I say another, because this happens often. Something is wrong with the world and many of us sense it.
The other night I watched an interview with the journalist who introduced Edward Snowdon to the world. When she spoke of how the government was watching her every move, trying to force her to reveal her sources, I was eerily reminded of the fight for religious liberty. Priests are being subpoenaed to break the seal of Confession. Pastors in Houston have had their sermons subpoenaed. The Bill of Rights is crumbling.
Isis is beheading Christians in the Middle East. The last week saw terrorist attacks in the US and Canada. There’s an Ebola epidemic, great moral decay, and the scandal over the relatio from the Synod on the Family.
Are we living in the end times?
Are these the end times?
This answer is unequivocally yes.
Since the Ascension God’s plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at ‘the last hour.’ ‘Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect.'” (CCC 670)
The end times began 2000 years ago.
I don’t have a lot of hope for the long-term future of the United States. But the fall of our country, or of the entire western world, does not necessarily mean the end of the world.
Now, obviously, we are at least 2000 years closer to the literal end of the world than the apostles were. But how far do we have to go? No one knows except God.
Prophets and seers
Private revelations seem to be everywhere. Some seers have been denounced by the Church. Others are under investigation. Still others have not yet come under scrutiny by church authorities.
Here is my response to private revelations that have not yet been approved by the Church:
I ignore them.
Why? To me, they are a distraction. Most of them in the long run will be discredited. A few will be found “worthy of belief.” But even those few will add nothing to the deposit of faith. The faith does not change because of private revelations. Nor does our duty as Christians.
Many people get caught up in following private revelations and end up in despair. Others become convinced that the Church has apostatized and disown their Mother. Many more become anxious and fearful. None of these is God’s will for us.
What does Scripture tell us?
Apocalyptic scriptures–those verses that speak of the end of the world–are notoriously hard to interpret. They can be twisted to fit almost any time or circumstance. But Jesus gives us some clear words.
And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mt 24:10-12)
Instead of following prophets, we need to stick with Jesus and His Church. He didn’t say that those who interpreted the times rightly will be saved. Or those who stored up food in their basements or fuel in their garages. But those who keep following Christ, who do not let their love grow cold, who endure in their faith, will be saved.
Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mt 28:20)
No matter what external circumstances we find ourselves in, Jesus is with us. He will never abandon His Bride. If we remain in the Church and in the state of grace, He will remain with us.
He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.” (Rev 21:7-8)
Those guilty of mortal sin and unrepentant will be punished forever. But those who conquer the Devil and his wiles will be children of God.
Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.” (Rev 22:12)
So what are we to do?
The apostles faced this question as well. No one knew how many centuries it would take for Christ to return. Some believed He would return almost at once. St. Paul wrote:
I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away. I want you to be free from anxieties…” (1 Cor 7:29-32)
In other words, we should live as though Heaven is our ultimate destination, not earth. We must be detached from everything and everyone. Not cold towards others, of course, but loving them in light of our love for God, rather than making idols out of them. We must live for nothing but Christ.
True peace comes only from living as God intended. Anxiety shows that we are somehow distracted, that we have lost our focus.
Elsewhere, Paul warns the Thessalonians against giving up working and standing around waiting for the Lord’s return (2 Thes 2:5-14). And when he speaks to the Corinthians about the Second Coming he says:
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Cor 15:58)
In short, whether the Lord comes tomorrow or 2000 years from now, He should find us watching–not by standing around in fear or curiosity–but by prayer and good works. We should live ordered, peaceful lives. We should get rid of everything that keeps us from coming closer to Christ. That includes spurious prophecies and excessive concern about worldly affairs.
For even if the antichrist appears next year, some people who are reading this may no longer be here to see it happen. And if Christ returns in fifty years, many of us will be gone.
The end will come when it comes, whether I foresee it or not. We will not be faulted for not getting anxious. We will not be faulted for focusing on loving God and our neighbor. These are the things that matter. These are the things that will bring us peace. In our era and in every era.
Peace be with you. Come, Lord Jesus.