These are certainly depressing readings. How to ruin a bright sunny day. Daniel and Mark are using a style of writing called apocalyptic, a style of writing that uses drastic imagery to make a point. It is a style of writing we should not take literally. Both writers are writing about what has come to be known as the end time, a time known only to God, a time when the universe as we know it will come to an end. Even with these readings in mind we must remember this glorious, mysterious universe has been evolving for some 15 billion years and shows no signs of slowing down.
Some might see in the environmental crisis of our time, the global warming, the spread of deserts, the pollution of the oceans, the melting of our artic ice as signs that the end is near. They are signs the planet is in crisis, a crisis most nations, especially our own, are refusing to face.
We believe the world will end. That’s God’s business. We believe our world will end in our personal death. That’s our business. There is a quote from scripture that goes, ‘son remember your last end and you will not sin.’
Every now and then when I get a call in the night for an emergency at NYGH the person died before I get there. Sometimes a family is upset that the person didn’t get to see the priest before he died. The advice I give at such a time is ‘if you tell me how your father lived, I’ll tell you how he died.” Sometimes that is consoling, sometimes it is not. I think death bed conversions are a rare thing – we die with the same mind set with which we lived. If God was an after thought in our living, God will be an after thought in our dying. If our mind set was an awareness of the grace of God in our lives and a willingness to see Christ in all those who came into our lives, if we were willing to reach out to others who were in any way, hungry or thirsty, naked, lonely, abandoned then the Christ we welcomed and helped in others will greet us with open arms.
As we continue to celebrate this Mass we can pray for ourselves and for each other that we live each day of our lives as if it were our first day and live each day of our lives as if it were our last day and leave the rest to the Christ Who loved us and gave His life for us.