As an example of deception, Today in the Word, (July 1995, p.27) told this story that F. E. Smith was a capable lawyer with a quick wit who served as the British attorney general from 1915 until 1919. On one occasion he cross-examined a young man claiming damages for an arm injury caused by the negligence of a bus driver. “Will you please show us how high you can lift your arm now?” asked Smith. The young man gingerly raised his arm to shoulder level, his face distorted with pain.
“Thank you,” said Smith. “And now, could you show us how high you could lift it before the accident?” The young man eagerly shot his arm up above his head. He lost the case.
The church liturgical calendar will come to an end. Soon a new church year will begin and that will be, Advent. At the end of the church annual calendar many bible readings pertain to the end of time and today’s gospel passage is one of them. Jesus describes the signs of the end of time and gives two very important points. He said: “Do not be deceived” when somebody said that he is the messiah or the time has come and “do not be terrified” when wars, insurrections and others happen.
Every so often, some people/groups appear to know more than what the Bible says about the end of the world. Sometimes, these people/groups even announce actual date when the end will come. Others declare knowledge on how person can be saved from often frightening events that come with the end. Unfortunately, many believe them.
What makes people believe in these false prophets who claim that they know exact details about the end of the world? Consider these three things:
First is ignorance of the Bible. If they really know the Bible, they should know that Jesus Himself said that no one knows when the end will be. “No one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father,” (Matt 13:32). So how can anyone claim he/she knows better than the Son?
Second is distrust in God. If they really trust God, even as they may have some fears about the apocalyptic details of the end times, they would not panic. Believing in false prophets is very often the result of panicking about the end of the world. Panic is the first-born of fear. Fear is the sister of distrust. Distrust is the enemy of faith in God.
Third is laziness. Some people think that by simply being counted in a group they will be spared of the trials that accompany the coming of the end. But when the end comes, it will be the end for all and the beginning of a new order for everyone. No one can run away or hide from it. Affiliation with a particular doomsday prophet/sect will not make things easy for anyone in the end. Even belonging to the Catholic Church or holding positions in it spares no o ne difficult task of remaining vigilant and prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus.
If in my preaching I tell you that I know exactly when the end of the world will be, please do not believe in me. I am lying. Know the Bible. Trust in God. Do not be lazy. (from Fr. Bobby Titco Sabbath 2008)
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In the film “Armaggedon,” we are told about a giant asteroid heading directly towards earth. Unless stopped, the asteroid will hit the earth and will mean the end of the world. A similar story is told in the movie “Deep Impact.” Unless stopped, the fall of the comet will have a tremendous impact of unknown proportions. It will also mean the end of the world. Stories about the end of the world continue to fascinate the people, just like the time of Jesus.
In the gospel today, Jesus tells us about the end of time. In describing its signs the Lord is telling us some important points. First, welcome the event calmly. Here, he is warning us to be on guard against false prophets that will only bring panic and fear in us. Second, he encourages us to bring hope into the world and to keep the faith alive in midst of trials. Third, he is reminding us that everything in this world has an end and that even our lives will come to an end.
Am I ready to face the Lord at the end of my life? When I face the Lord, what can I tell him about the life I have lived or what will the Lord tell me about the kind of life I have lived? (Fr. Jose Mateo, SVD Bible Diary 2002)
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….The church liturgical calendar is about to end. Soon a new church year will begin, Advent. At the end of the church annual calendar many of the bible readings pertain to the end of the world. Jesus makes a picturesque description of the end, in biblical language, apocalyptic – the great battle between good and evil. The war will include the whole universe, the sun and moon, the stars in heaven, light and darkness – frightening images that defy imagination. The Jews who were listening to Him must have felt like the twin that received the box of manure on his birthday. Were it not for the gift of optimism the twin might have looked for the nearest river to drown himself.
To those who hang on to Him, Jesus offers reason for optimism. “Do not be frightened…,” He warns. Those who remain honest in a world where dishonesty is S.O.P., those who hang on to the truth, those who remain faithful to the Lord in prayer and good works in the midst of noise traffic, lack of money for Christmas, etc., Jesus will transform into something new. Behind the “manure” we get daily, a true gift of meaningful and peaceful life awaits us. (Fr. Atilano Corcuera, SVD Bible Diary 2004)
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“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” Many have misinterpreted these verses. As a result, they sold everything they own, left their family and career and joined religious sects and cults specializing in the imminent fulfillment of these end-time predictions. Unfortunately, some of these cults ended up in mass suicides. Others, until now, are still waiting for this end to happen and while waiting they serve their leaders for free with the hope that at the end time they will be saved by them. A few realized the hoax and left the community.
The next time you entertain people who come knocking on your door and proclaiming this bad news, stand firm and tell them straight that only God knows when time ends. He assures us in today’s gospel, “Do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” However, these verses also serve as a wake up calls for all of us to re-align our lives to Christ’s teachings. We should not wait until these wake calls really happen before we change our lives. It might be too late. (Frt. Ross P Heruela, SVD Bible Diary 2006)
Fr. Joseph Benitez
Luke 21:6 there shall not be left one stone upon another
“On August 15 (AD 70), Titus ordered the wooden roofs and porches around the Temple to be burned…Flaming brands were tossed into the Temple itself through an open window, and the House of God was burned on the ninth of Ab (August 28).
As the Temple burned, frenzy gripped both attackers and defenders. Roman shock troops burst through, and Titus was able to dash into the Temple just long enough for a brief look; then heat forced him out. His soldiers continued burning whatever could be kindled, and killing all they could reach, whether combatants, women, or children. Many Jews flung themselves into the fire and perished with their Temple. Others, hiding in corners, were burned to death as Roman torches set new fires.’” (Galbraith, Ogden, and Skinner, Jerusalem: The Eternal City, 215)
“[Weeks later] Now as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury…Caesar (Titus) gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple…[and when they were done] the wall [around Jerusalem and presumably the temple]…was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited.” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 7:1:1)
There will not be left a stone upon another. Do you think you will live and be remembered forever? Do you believe that what you have accomplished will outlive you? It is said that if you want to live forever, you must do three things.
First, plant a tree. Well, suppose your family thinks the tree is an obstruction and has it cut down when you are gone? Second, write a book. With so many books in the market, what if no one buys and reads your book? Third, have a son. What if your son despises you and erases you from his memory?
We want to live long, yet we hold on to things that do not last long even, like a tree or a book or another human being. If we want to live forever, let us look for and hold on to things that really matter and last even after we have long been gone. Or maybe better, let us not look back but look forward to eternal life.
Make your own list of things you want to do before you die.