The End of the World As We Know It
In case you just stumbled out from a cave, having been asleep for the last year or so, I have to let you know of this persistent rumour going around. The world as we know it coming to an end on December 21, 2012. That is exactly 11 months to the day from when I am writing this piece.
Sure there have been many such predictions in the past that have come to nothing. In fact last year Harold Camping of Family Radio in California predicted that the end was coming…twice. Unfortunately for Harold and his followers, life goes on. But this time its for real… Maybe.
There was some confusion about this very thing in the early life of the Church. When Jesus ascended into heaven he promised his disciples that he would return again one day.(Acts 1.9-12) Problem was, he didn’t say when. Since then believers, followers, scholars and prognosticators have been trying to nail down the day and the hour without much success.
St Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, seems to be advocating for a rather short time line. He advises those who are married to live as though they are not married, those who are not married to not consider getting married and the rest to just forget their woes and joys and focus on being ready for the end. Perhaps this sounds silly to us that are still here 2000 years later. But did Paul’s message and maybe the other doomsayers out there have a point that we should really consider?
In the first reading today we find the prophet Jonah grudgingly on his way to Nineveh to bring the message that God’s wrath was going to overthrow the city if they didn’t mend their ways. Jonah fully expected that he would be a laughing-stock. He wondered why God didn’t just save him some time and smite the city as it was. But something unusual happened. The people actually listened to Jonah. When the prophet began to preach to the Ninevites they sat-up and took notice. They listened to what it was that Jonah has to say even though the message was difficult. The people actually changed. Their hearts turned right around and they realized that they were on wrong path and they wanted to do something about it
Could this be the value of End-of-the-World slogans? That they make us sit up and take note? If that is a bit of a stretch for you then consider this. We are all on a very short timeline. Like the grass we sprout in the morning but then wither and fade away by nightfall.(Job 14.1-2) Our time on this earth is very finite. What are you doing with your time? What are your priorities? How do you want to be remembered?
Jesus told his disciples that no one knew the hour that he would return but he did ask us to be ready. (Mat 25.1-13)