Today’s theme is hard to miss. It is the last Sunday of Ordinary Time as next Sunday is the celebration of Christ the King. It also is fall, and time marches towards winter. It is November, the time to celebrate the souls that have departed this life. It is just after Halloween and all that holiday commemorates, the thinning of the veil and the proximity between this life and the next. The readings of the day embrace all of this, and if there is a common theme to the readings the word Eschatology would come into play. That word is concerned with final events, and human destiny. The meaning of the word revolves around death, and judgement, and the final destiny of our souls. It suggests the Apocalypse, the end of time. Biblically it can refer to the messianic age. To sum it in words; time, life, death, heaven and hell. The second coming of Christ, the last judgement. Big and abstract themes, but think. Look at those words.
Time. Time is measured it is finite, it has scale and is measured. A day has a length. Years, months, days, hours, minutes, seconds. Time can be measured. Our time in our present state is measured, it has a span. But what about life, does life turn into death? What are its units? To Christians life is eternal, and death is not victorious over it. Life does not end in death; it is our life’s span that concludes in time. Death cannot defeat Life; it tries but ultimately fails. Christ defeats death and frees those souls shackled to it. “He descended into hell, and on the third day rose again.” But of our free will we can accept all that death has to offer. Some do. Life and death, grace and sin, heaven and hell; there is a correlation. What then is the end of days, the end of time? Eschatology?
Some look at the end of time as the distant future, the end of a millennium and many millennium’s off. Time is measured; the end of time can be the end of a second. One can prepare for the end of time as living one second or day in preparation for the next. In can be viewed in human terms, and on a human scale. Hourly and daily, not simply geologically. Lord, grant me a restful night and a peaceful death; a prayer at compline. In Paul’s 2 Thes 3:7-12 letter, he reminds people that his time frame is human. Paul worked among them. It is their ordinary time and a time people can relate to. Not distant but present. His was a message to follow by example. Jesus Lk 21:5-19 talks of the destruction of the temple, its time had past, and he talks of a battle. The imagery is of a battle on a grand scale, apocalyptic. The end of time, it is that final confrontation between life and death. Those people, at that time, had a different view of the world. He spoke to them in their time so that they might understand. They faced many battles, but individually they were not the ultimate battle. They were not the definitive battle, though many taught otherwise. The battle between good and evil. The battle between life and death.
On one hand, I look at an atomic blast, something the ancients did not know. Apocalyptic for certain. Must the apocalypse always be grand, does the last day always end in fireworks ? I remember when the tiny mass bells that were rung at the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus the Christ. A time long ago, a time past. Apocalyptic. What if someone saw the importance of keeping those bells ringing, of finding someone to keep that sound through time. It is the sound, however small, of salvation advancing through time. This is my body, and the bells rang. This is my blood, the blood of a new and everlasting covenant. And the bells rang. A small sound announcing something of extreme importance.
“Do not be deceived” (to use the tone of the prophets), the grandiose is not always of grand importance. Little things count, little actions count, and little preparations count. One second ends and another begins. The end of time, the Apocalypse, Eschatology can be put into human terms, the mundane tasks of daily life. Not the end of time and the end of days; but more simply the end of one day or one time.
Excuse my misspellings, and grammar, and poor sentence structure. I would have liked to have worked on this further, to flesh it out, but unfortunately I ran out of time.