Fr Martin Pender
Each day is the last. Each time is the end time.
It is very sobering for all of us to meditate on our nothingness, our minuscule existence in the Cosmos that was created by our omnipotent God. It helps us to gain perspective and to understand our existence as a part of, not the centre of, the universe. However, many people today perceive themselves as mighty temples, as edifices of personal greatness and power, their individual viewpoints and opinions become a kind of pantheon of self-worship.
And yet, the Gospel today tells us that the prodigious temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed, not a single stone would be left on another. As it was with the temple in Jerusalem so will it be for all those who build temples of their own glory.
Let us reflect a little on the cosmos itself. Light travels through space at about 300,000 kilometres per second. If we could travel at that speed, we would zoom around the entire planet almost 8 times every second. When we look at our Galaxy (no, not Samsung!), the Milky Way, we discover that the diameter of the Galaxy is expanding and is about 165,000 light-years at present, that is 165 with 1,980 zeros after it! And that is our “little” galaxy, one of the smallest! And there are at least 200 billion galaxies in the universe, some of them are 1.5 million light years in diameter! Our minds cannot comprehend these figures and yet many individuals place themselves at the centre of this Cosmos, believing that they are God's gift to the world! Yes, we need to meditate on our nothingness, on our minuscule existence in the Cosmos that was created by God so that we can have a proper perspective on life itself.
The apocalyptic texts we read in the liturgy today teach us the importance of proper perspective. Each day is the last. Each time is the end time. Each human being faces the end of the world in the span of a life, whether it reaches eight minutes or eighty years. The world, its opportunities and losses, passes away for us each night. Every sunset announces the closing of a day that will never come again. Each human death is the curtain on an unrepeatable drama, which, without God, amounts to a tragedy. Every generation, in some way, is the last, the termination. And each generation, like each death and every day, witnesses the signs of the end times.
There has never been an age without trial and turmoil. What century has not seen wars? What nation has not tried to bulldoze its way ahead of others? When have we not been plagued by cancerous life or tossed by mighty movements of earth and sea? Has there ever been a time when a true Christian has not been ridiculed and rejected, whether by friends, family, or state?
Everything that Christ predicted has taken place and is taking place and will continue to take place. We did not need to wait until the millennium or turn to Nostradamus to unlock the mystery. Life itself is the mystery, this great groaning of creation that finds its meaning in hope alone.
And so, Christ counsels us not to be alarmed at our condition. Through all the turmoil of our days, our generation, our species, it is not death, but a new saving birth which is assured.
As our projects and pretences mount, as our labours and tasks surround us, as our entertainment and doodling kills time, we may forget the upshot of our lives. It is to love and evoke love, no matter where we may be, from nursing home to classroom. It is to receive with full heart the gift of Christ's once-and-for-all redemptive act. It is to welcome the opportunity of every moment, every breath. We need to understand, accept and live our nothingness so that we can bear witness to the God who created everything out of nothing so that he could fill it with the gift of His very self.