In the Summer of 2002, the Time magazine featured a cover story titled, “The Bible and the Apocalypse: Why More Americans Are Reading and Talking About the End of the World” (Nancy Gibbs, Time, July 1, 2002). The article documented and explored the rise of interest in the end-time discussions among the general public in North America. But one does not have to conduct in-depth research to realize that today, there is indeed a tremendous desire in our society to learn more about the end times and eschatology. For instance, the phenomenally successful series Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins sold more than sixty million copies worldwide. Countless movies, series and books have been produced before and since then trying to descript the biblical deep and mysterious signs and symbols of the end times.
What triggers this enormous curiosity within us to learn more and better understand the end of the world, eschatology and the Second coming of Christ? Is it the fear of death, judgment, condemnation and hell? Hope for a better world ruled by divine justice and peace? The suspense and thrill of diving deep into the mysterious and exploring the horizons of the unknown?
This is the topic of this Sunday’s Gospel reading where our Lord, after explaining some of the signs and events surrounding the end-times, concludes with the following powerful and important message, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36). Here and throughout the entire Gospel, the emphasis is always on preparing spiritually rather than trying to guess when, where and how these events will take place.
We all know how much time and energy it takes to plan a family vacation or a trip. Days of research and planning are required to decide where we will go, where we will stay, the airline tickets, the car rental, the restaurants we will eat in, the sights we will visit, finances required to make it all possible, what we will wear and take with us, the travel insurance, pets, credit cards, cash at hand and so on.
How does this all compare with the amount of time, energy, and effort we invest into planning our journey to heaven? We know from the Holy Bible that we are not prisoners of this world that can be cold, indifferent, and unforgiving. We know that our Lord and Savior is going to return to take his beloved children – who believed and trusted God and lived virtuous lives – with him to his heavenly kingdom ruled by peace and justice where there is no disease and death, hate, corruption, and greed. Don’t we want to be part of this wonderful reality? And if so, shouldn’t we prepare for this journey by preparing for it with great zeal, passion and enthusiasm? Our faith is our ticket for our trip to heaven. Let’s embrace, cherish and care for our faith by renewing our spiritual lives and commitment to seek God in our daily lives, pray, hope, trust, forgive and prepare for our great journey into the kingdom of love and peace.