“You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right forever.” (Psalm 16:11)
Twenty years ago, after finishing a summer of mission work, I visited the pyramids of Chichen Itza in the Yucatan peninsula. They are remarkable structures built by the Mayans who were a very advanced civilzation. These days the Mayans are part of everyday conversation because of their calendar. I remember when I preached on today’s readings three years ago that I did a little research about this fascination with the Mayan calendar: “Apparently the Mayan calendar runs out during the winter solstice on December 21, 2012. The Mayan calendar runs for exactly 5,126 years, and wouldn't you know it, it runs out [next month]. This date is also significant because it will be the first time in 26,000 years that the Earth and the Sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way.” Fun, right? So I guess I don’t have to do any of my Christmas shopping because we won’t make it past December 21st. People keep making jokes about how all the terrible things happening in the world point to this calendar expiring and the coming apocalypse. I guess they didn’t read today’s gospel in its entirety.
I am always amused by people that are obsessed, yes, obsessed with the end of the world. They look for clues in the Scriptures, especially in the beginning of today’s gospel, to point to things that are happening in the world that are perhaps, maybe, possibly alluded to in the Bible. (Let me clarify once and for all that the results of the recent election were not foretold in the Scriptures.) So instead of scaring you this weekend with images of a darkened sun and falling stars, let me offer some words of hope: only the Father knows the day or the hour and the Son assures us that he will be with us right to the very end.
So why worry? If we are living the Christian ideal that Christ spelled out for us two weeks ago, love God and neighbor, then we shouldn’t worry about the end times. We should delight in mighty hand of God, as the psalm says, instead of fearing it. We spend so much time worrying about things that we cannot control in the future when we should be focused on the present and following Christ and his commandments in the here and now. This morning I was reading a passage written by St. Augustine who said: “Let us not resist the first coming, so that we may not dread the second.” There you have it: if we’re doing what the Lord wants us to do, why worry? We are a people of hope and of joy. If we are in the good graces of our God, why should we fear?