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3 W’s About the End

32nd Sunday

We can make sense of the gospel message on this second to the last Sunday of the liturgical year with three words that start with the letter W.

The first word is “wait”. But what do we wait for? We wait for the end. There will be an end to things, to all things, to our life, and all life.

There are two approaches of people when it comes to the end. Some people simply don’t care. Yes, in our modern world, many people live only today. They see only what’s before their very eyes. They care only about the urgent matters that need attention now.

Others anxiously anticipate the end. They cannot focus on the present because of their fear of the end suddenly coming. How many people lost touch with reality because they set their sights on a future that they were not so sure about.

Whether or not people believe in the end, God’s Word is very clear. There will be an end to things. In fact, it will not need God’s special intervention to make the end happen. Men and women have already signed the death certificates of other people, of animal species, of forests and other parts of God’s beautiful creation.

The second word is “when”. When will the end come? This is the big secret in the gospel. We will see the signs. We will feel it coming. But we cannot predict the exact time when the end of this present world will come.

In trying to interpret the end, many people have already failed. Remember the year 2000, when people thought it was the end of the world, the crash of computers and the ultimate day in the calendar. Now many people set their sights on 2010 – December 12, 2012 – when according to ancient soothsayers, the world will experience something different, drastic and new.

But the Lord does not reveal the exact time of the end appointed by God. It will come but it will come as a surprise – just as death comes by surprise, just as sickness comes when least expected, just as accidents happen without notice, just as fortune suddenly erupts before your very eyes.

Why does the Lord keep us in suspense? This brings us to the 3rd w – the word “work”. Jesus speaks about the future not to encourage fear. Jesus teaches about the end not to paralyze people with dread. The end has nothing to do with destruction, but with fulfillment. In speaking of the end, the Lord wishes to inspire us to make our lives and our world better.

Christians, knowing that there is an end to all, are not the type to just sit down and wait. Or to hide and expect the worse. God expects us to work, as we use to do each day. St. Paul makes this very clear: we need to work for the Kingdom. We work today so as to make the most of the graces we receive. We work for the future so as to ensure that the talents given us are not wasted. We wait by working faithfully and making God’s dreams for us flourish and materialize.