Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Twenty-seventh and Last Sunday after Pentecost—20 November AD 2016

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

    “When you see all these things,
know that it is near, even at the door.”[1]

    In today's Gospel our Lord tells us something about that frightful period before the end of time.  And He tell us that we will know when that period has arrived by the things going on in the world around us.  And this is a question that we sometimes find us asking ourselves:  Could He have been referring to our time?  Could we be approaching the end of time?

    He speaks of “The abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet.”  To His Jewish listeners, this was something with which they were quite familiar;  it had already happened under Antiochus, a successor to Alexander the Great.[2]  Antiochus had marched into the temple in Jerusalem, the sanctuary of the living God, and put a stop to the continual offering of sacrifice.  Not only did he abolish sacrifices to the true God, but he also had pagan priests brought in to offer pigs in sacrifice to the false god, Jupiter (Zeus).  Not only were the Jews deprived of the graces of divine worship, but they were forced to be accomplices to a great sacrilege.[3]

    We might be tempted to see in this a foreshadowing of the terrible tribulations that have gripped the Church in recent years.

    Our Lord speaks of an era in which there will be “false christs and false prophets,” trying to lead “even the elect” astray.  Here too, there is a strong temptation to think our Lord was speaking of our own times.  Both in the Church and in civil society we keep being told that “things are now different, and that we must adjust to new ways.”  The old ways and the old morality, we are told, have been replaced with new ones.  The modern “wisdom” has it that man has somehow matured, and is now beyond the restrictions God used to place on him in years gone by.

    And, likewise, a whole crop of “prophets” has arisen to tell us how we are to deal with this general decline in civilization.  They all have different answers of course;  ranging from armed insurrection to docile obedience;  ranging from purely spiritual to purely material solutions (usually some form of Marxism);  from prayer to economics.  A great deal of money has been made, and will continue to be made in the future by people selling books on dealing with the “coming economic collapse,” “the great apostasy,” and “the end of the world.”

    Now, of course, we don't know if we are living in the end times or not.   We may be.  Certainly, many of the people who heard Christ speak took Him literally and expected the end to come within their own generation.  And people who have endured difficult times throughout the past two thousand years, may well have felt that Christ was speaking about their time.  It is impossible to be objective about such a thing seeming to go on around you.

    Certainly when the end itself actually comes, people will be able to see the signs of the time; things like the sun and moon being darkened, the stars falling from heaven, our Lord appearing like lightening in the sky from east to west.

    But for the time being, at least, we see no such signs.  What are we expected to do?  The answer is, of course, extremely simple.  We ought to prepare for the end of the world in exactly the same way as we prepare for our own personal end.  For, long before the end of the world comes, we may be called upon to give an account of our lives before God's judgment seat.  That is to say that our preparation should include prayer and penance and keeping the Commandments, and doing good works, and receiving the Sacraments frequently—frequent Confession and frequent Holy Communion.  There is little else we can do to prepare for either eventuality.

    Remember that there will be false christs and false prophets out there.  The safest thing is to ignore them;  “do not go forth ... do not believe it,” as our Lord tells us.  Keep the Gospel of Jesus Christ and avoid all innovation.

    And one last thing.  Our Lord rarely, if ever, delivered a sermon to people if He didn't want them to do something; to act upon His words.  He presents us with a terrible picture; but then gives us a way out, or at least a way to diminish our tribulations.  He tells us that the days of the end times will be “shortened for the sake of the elect.”  What He is asking us to do is to exercise our own enlightened self-interest and “number ourselves among the elect.”  It is not God who sends us to heaven or hell; it is not God who sentences us to tribulation or to tranquility; we do that for ourselves, and our choice ought to be obvious.

    As Saint Paul tells us today:

“Walk worthily of God and please Him in all things,
bearing fruit in every good work
and growing in the knowledge of God.”[4]

    If we follow Saint Paul’s advice those days will be shortened for us if we have to endure them.

“When you see all these things,
know that it is near, even at the door.”


[1]   Gospel: Matthew xxiv: 15-35

[2]   The Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who ruled Palestine from 175-164 B.C.

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