By Fr. Thiago, sx –
In listening to Jesus´ words in this Sunday´s Gospel – “there will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place, and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky” – we don´t have anything else to say but: “O God come to our aid!” In reality, we have to understand Jesus´ words well, because, a wrong interpretation of these words can lead us to erroneous conclusions.
We are reading an excerpt from chapter 21 of the Gospel according to Luke, where the evangelist uses a literary genre called apocalyptic. In the Scriptures, this literary genre doesn´t aim to scare us, but its purpose is to help us to interpret the present time and to reinforce our certainty that history is in God´s hands.
Many people are worried thinking about the end of the world. When we were approaching the year 2000 there were some people affirming: “1000 years have gone by, but 2000 will not pass by!” Others, reading the Apocalypse of Saint John, were even able to foretell the exact hour of the end. But the year 2000 came and nothing happened. The Mayan calendar inspired other “prophets of ill omen,” who announced a new date for end of the world, scheduled for the year 2012, but once again without any success.
“Teacher, when will this happen?” The Lord Jesus didn´t answer about the “when” (he didn´t satisfy the curiosity of his disciples); instead, he invited his disciples to be vigilant because, the “when” is right now. As it is, our world is fragile and marked by limitations; “the whole creation is groaning together in the pains of childbirth” waiting to be set free from its bondage from corruption. Beside this dimension of precariousness, which characterizes our world, we can not forget all the disasters provoked by the human beings when human dignity is not respected.
Nevertheless, the core message of this Sunday Gospel is not about tragedies or hardships, but it is about the certainty that God is always involved with our history; he is committed to us: “…not a hair on your head will be destroyed.” Even when God seems to be far from our human existence, he is closer than ever, because the passion of his people is also his own; the tears of his people are his own as well. In this way, God assures us that the last word in our story and in the history of the world will not be adversities or scourges, but it will be his love, which makes everything new.
While we ask about “when” will be the end of the world and what are the “signs,” Jesus reminds us that the world has its beginning and its completion in the Father, and calls us to live the present time enlightened by this sure hope, which gives meaning to our life. Based on this certainty, we can affirm that we are not walking towards the sunset, rather, we are walking towards a new dawn, when Christ will be all in all.
From the writings of Saint Guido
«In the meantime, far from allowing ourselves to be shaken in the firmness of our faith, far from letting ourselves be defeated by mistrust and dejection, let us intensify our trust in God, who watches over the affairs of the human family with love and, instead of abruptly ending the slow and painful development of the human race and its terrible consequences, He always leads them wisely, in His own good time, to the goal that He has established for those who love Him and trust in Him.”
(1916, 23 April, Parma – Cathedral, Easter homily)