Listening to all the readings at Mass about the end of times at this time of the year makes you wonder if we should be proclaiming them as “the Good News!” Recently while visiting my parents I found a book titled, “The Final Hour.” It’s about all the end-time prophecies. I have to be honest, that stuff scares me.
And I can’t help seeing the “signs of the times” in our time: earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, war, terrorism… It seems that in our day there is much suffering and destruction.
But the truth is that there has always been suffering and destruction. Did Jesus tell us to watch for those things because those things are happening all the time? Surely, at some level he was speaking about the coming destruction of Jerusalem (which took place in the year 70AD under the Emperor Nero and the leadership of Vespasian – in fact, most Christians survived because Jesus had warned them about the signs and they ran to the hills). At another level, I do think that Jesus was warning us to be attentive all the time. Isn’t that what we try to remember every Advent?
At Advent we focus on the birth of Christ 2000 years ago, but also we look to his Final Coming. I think it’s a good time to think about where we are and where we are going.
At Halloween I wrote
about our Catholic traditions with regards to the dead. My colleague Vivian Cabrera also wrote about the traditions in Mexico about the Day of the Dead
. These celebrations are deeply rooted in the Catholic idea that we will one day die. This is not a ‘doom and gloom’ focus. It’s a very real (and hopeful) focus that we are headed home. And we may be asked to go at any time. This is why we must always be ready.
At the recent 75th anniversary celebration of my parish, Holy Martyrs of Japan in Bradford, Ontario, Toronto’s Archbishop, Cardinal Thomas Collins reminded us of an expression that I’ve always liked: “live today as if it was your first day; your last day; your only day.” Those are wise words. That is the reason for the Catholic tradition of “memento mori” – remember your death.
And it’s hard to not think of all of this in light of the war and terror that is happening today in the Middle East and in particular with the recent terror attacks in Beirut and in Paris. Did I say that this stuff scares me?
But to be afraid is not the appropriate Christian response.
Jesus Christ came to free us from fear. In fact He came to fill us with Faith, Hope and Love. Those are the things that should always motivate a Christian.
I heard an inspiring talk by a Sister of Life
once in Vancouver. She asked us what the opposites of Faith, Hope and Love are.
- Hope is an easy one. The opposite of Hope is despair.
- Faith is having trust in God. When we do not trust in God, we trust in ourselves. That is pride. The opposite of Faith is pride.
- Love is a bit harder. She argued that the opposite of Love is not hate; hate is a response. The real opposite of Love is fear. That is why we believe that perfect Love drives out all fear (1 John 4:18).
Having this knowledge has made a significant impact in how I live my day-to-day. The enemy wants us to be motivated by pride, despair and fear. On the complete other hand, Jesus wants us always to be motivated by Faith, Hope and Love.
How do you live your life? When you make decisions, small and big, what motivates you? Do you respond mainly out of fear? Do you act because of pride? Are you living your life in a state of despair?
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
. It is a feast to remind us that Jesus is the supreme ruler of our lives. He is the one who rules over us and we should have no other “kings” before Him.
The Kingdom of Jesus is one of Faith, Hope and Love. When we submit to Him and His reign we make a pledge to live by His rules. Do not let what you see in the news rule in your life. Do not let pride, despair or fear rule in your life or motivate your actions. The battle has been won. Jesus Christ is the King of the universe and his Kingdom is one of Faith, Hope and Love!
CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:firstname.lastname@example.org