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Is the end of the world really coming?
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The Bible tells us that one day the world will end. There will be a final judgement where we will see God's justice served to all. Then, all the damage done by Original Sin will be repaired and life will begin anew, consistent with God's plan. But how close are we to this moment? What should we do?
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Is the end of the world coming? Look to the ones who know for clues.
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The end of the world has fascinated people since the time of Christ. While Jesus admonished that nobody knows when the end will come, we are to always be prepared, in anticipation of the final hour. (Matt 24:36) Jesus explained in Matthew 24 there would be dramatic signs and even terrible things would happen, yet these events would merely be the beginning of the end, not the end itself. (Matt 24:8)
It is tempting to fixate on these scriptures. Some early Christians fixated on them so much they saw little need to work, believing that Jesus would return, so why bother? Paul advised they be cut off from food until they returned to their work. (2 Thess 3:10) Today, entire churches share this fixation. Yet, it would be a mistake for us to do likewise.
Just as Christ's Apostles continued their ministry without regard for the end times, we too are called to perform our Christian duties without worry. For we are assured there will be a last day, and we are assured of our salvation, should we avoid sin, seek reconciliation, and obtain the Sacraments which give us the grace we need to do the Lord's work in our lives.
Jesus shared several parables about people being prepared, or unprepared for an important moment. The lesson was not that we should try to guess when the moment will arrive and prepare just before. Instead, the lesson is for us to always be prepared.
Indeed, there is always the possibility that our soul could depart our body at any moment for any reason. Our health could fail, we could suffer an accident, or be the victim of something awful. And if our spiritual lamps are not full, if we are unready, how will we become ready when the opportunity is gone? (Matt 25:1-13)
In other words, we are called to always be ready. From a real perspective, that means we must attend Mass, receive the Sacraments, avoid sin, obtain reconciliation, pray, and love God and others. If we are skipping any of these responsibilities, we could be unready. That's the warning we must heed.
As for the end of the world, the times we are seeing now are not as unique as we might think. History records other times when the world was in greater chaos than now. But what is unique is the status of our environment. Our planet is awash in plastic and the atmosphere polluted with carbon and methane. Wealthy people are hoarding more treasure than they could ever spend, wasting their talents on flights to space instead of investing them for God.
As the Parable of the Rich Fool explains, all we have belongs to God, and we cannot take anything with us after death. So many people are burying God's talents instead of spending them to serve Him. And if they do give something away, it is done with fanfare and trumpeting. What will they say for themselves? (Luke 12:13-21)
Scientists warn Earth is losing the capacity to sustain human life at the levels of consumption we are at. We must change how we relate to Creation, seeing it not as something to be harvested for profit, but as something we must steward.
An important sign is to look at what the wealthy are doing. Not only are they pioneering their own personal space programs, they are moving north to countries like Canada where the climate is cooler and fresh water more abundant. They are storing up all manner of wealth and things. They're creating seed banks and funding genetic research to fight aging and afflictions. While this behavior can be viewed as benevolent or simply self-promoting, it is actually self-preservation. They know something we don't, and their behavior provides all the clues we need.
What they know is the end of the world as we know it is coming. These are probably not the end times spoken of by Christ. Instead, they are the end times of the world we live in. A world filled with consumption and greed, and all manner of conflict and evil.
The world to come will not be as comfortable or safe. This is a known cycle in history. (See: Cliodynamics) Things will get better over many generations, as humanity adjusts, but for us, caught in the downward cycle, it will often feel like the end is near.
What's the solution? What can we do?
For one, we must pray and always be prepared. Have your lamps filled! First with grace, which was explained above. Next, we need to change our behaviors. We need to become more self-reliant as individuals. Even if we cannot become wholly self-sustaining and escape "the grid," we can still do things that empower ourselves. Installing solar panels and batteries, building systems to capture and filter water. Learning how to hunt and fish. Learning how to build and repair things. Learning to live on a budget. All practical life skills regardless of what happens next.
For now, these things can be difficult. But CatholicOnline.University is coming soon to offer many of these practical skills. And soon, a host of courses on engineering and technology are coming to CatholicOnline.School.
The world to come will be less comfortable, less easy. But the world is unlikely to end. What will happen is we will have to become more self-sustaining. And we will have to learn to live in harmony with Creation. Better times will follow, just as they did for Israel each time God's people turned away from sin and back to Him.
Let us fill our lamps, and have no anxiety. (Philippians 4:6-7)
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