Suitable Endings

In 1999 Arnold Schwarzennegar made an unintentionally funny movie: The End of Days. It is about, well, the end of all things, the last days. I won’t bore you with the plot of the movie, which is pretty thick. It had something to do with sacrificing a young girl, which would result in God losing to the devil. Don’t worry. Arnold saved the day.

The funniest part of the film is where Arnold fights with the devil. Now any human fighting with the devil without help from God is doomed to fail. With Christ anything is possible. Without him, well, it isn’t pretty.

There have been many books and films about the last days, all of them scary. They go back to the words of Jesus: “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.” (Luke 21:10)

This has already happened. Just look at what happened in the last hundred years. Stalin and Hitler killed and enslaved millions. In our own day, and in our own country, there are 30 deaths by violence everyday. The Typhoon in the Philippines has killed thousands. 909 followers of the false prophet Jim Jones were killed in the Jonestown massacre. These are just a few of the horrors of our time.

None of these are from God. They are all from us. We cause war and famine, and our distance from God even causes the natural disasters.

The end days are not about destruction; they are about the reign of God. They are about us finally getting it. But if you read some of the books and see some of the movies you don’t get that impression. They are all about doom and gloom.

As Jesus said, "See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them!” (Luke 21:8)

We have libraries full of end of day literature. Movies galore. Most of them say the end is next Wednesday and buy my book. Why would you be selling a book if it all ends next Wednesday?

Some of these folks are well meaning. Others are scamps and rascals who want to get your money. Any one who says the end is near is contradicting Jesus who says we do not know the day or the hour.

So, instead, live as though each day was the end of times, as if Jesus was coming today. Even if Jesus doesn’t come for everyone one day, he will be coming for you. You will be called to answer for your good deeds and your not so good deeds. So, if Jesus came today, how would you act? Would you have premarital sex? Would you drink and use other drugs? How would you treat your family? Teens, would you take mom and dad for granted and discount their wisdom? Parents, would you be more patient? How would you treat the out-crowd, those kids who don’t fit in? Would you welcome them or would you exclude them and make their lives miserable? How would you treat the poor in our city, in our state, in our country, or in the world?

How do we see Christ in the poor of the world? How do we feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, and visit those in prison, even prisons of depression and despair? Do we see Christ in the poor? Or do we see a problem we don’t want to look at?

Jesus is here with us now, challenging us to do better, challenging us, not in the future, but right now. He is challenging us as teens, as parents, as priests, and as deacons. How will you answer that challenge today and this week?

“By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” (Luke 21:19)

Father Mike Van Cleve

Father Mike is a priest for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.