34th Saturday of Ordinary Time
Revelation 20:1-4,11-21:2; Luke 21:29-33
We are at the end of this period of the Liturgical season and fittingly the first reading we heard a few minutes ago is taken from the final pages of the Apocalypse. For this last book of the Bible treats of the end-time quite vividly in its final two chapters from which the passage we heard is taken. Many modern readers do not readily take literally the concept of a divine intervention that brings life on earth to an abrupt end. And yet that is the message of today’s reading. Obviously the inspired author of this work presents us with symbolic language by way of stating truths that the Church has taken seriously from early times.
The author of the Apocalypse is a successor to the prophets whose writings often enough interpret the meaning of present events in light of their inspired awareness of God’s plan, hidden behind human events as well as future happenings. We observe this conspicuously in the case of Jesus, the greatest of all prophets. Our Lord could recognize clearly the Father’s plan which was not perceived even by his chosen apostle until after his resurrection. This fact is stressed by St. Matthew, but is also confirmed by St. John’s lively description of the appearance of Jesus to the disciples at Emmaus. If this Apocalyptic passage is brought to our attention on this final day of this Liturgical season, surely it is intended to cause us to be aware that life in this world is uncertain. There were more than 39,000 killed in car and other accidents last year in this country, all of them taken by surprise. The emergency wing of our General hospitals is one of the busiest, especially at night.
However, this reading terminates on an encouraging note introduced by the statement: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The earth and the heavens as we know them are not permanent, but will pass away, our author adds. This statement sets our faith at odds with those numerous scientists who are mistakenly convinced that this world as we know it is all there is and will exist indefinitely. Faith and trust in our Lord are the great gift upon which all depends. May we all persevere in our trusting hope that, as St. Luke writes: Be Strong that we may stand before the Son of Man, for he has come to unite us with Himself.