Reading (Revelation 20:1-4, 11-21:2) Gospel (St. Luke 21:29-33)
In the last couple of days in the Gospel readings, we have heard Our Lord explaining to His disciples what things are going to happen when the end of the world comes. Yet, at the same time, He adds in today’s Gospel that all these things will happen before “this generation” passes away. And so we ask ourselves, “How can we understand this?” It is very simple: All of these things did happen before that generation passed away. It was not the end of the world as yet but it was the end of Jerusalem as it was known. The soldiers of the Roman army in the year 70 A.D. destroyed Jerusalem, and all the things Our Lord had spoken about – an army encircling the city, the signs in the sky, the various things that were happening with the wars and famines and earthquakes and so on – all these things happened in and around Jerusalem. It is an interesting statistic that not one single Christian person died in the year 70 back in Jerusalem, even though several million Jewish people died. The reason is the people saw what was happening and they did exactly what Our Lord told them to do. That is, they fled for the hills, they got out of Jerusalem and they went to where it would be safe. That was a precursor of what is going to happen at the end. And so the things that happened to Jerusalem, the way it was destroyed in fire, is what is going to happen to this whole earth. It too will be destroyed in fire. All of the various things that occurred, the signs in the sky, the military things, and all of the things that occurred will happen again but on a much larger scale.
At the same time, rather than despairing, we need to look forward to things with great hope. For instance, in the first reading from the Book of Revelation, we heard about the angel coming down from Heaven holding in his hand the key to the great abyss and a heavy chain. He tied up the devil with that chain and threw him into the great abyss and locked the door over the top of him. That chain is the Rosary and our Holy Father, in giving us the mysteries to the Rosary and adding new power and authority to the Rosary, has told us exactly what needs to be done without saying it in so many words. We need to pray the Rosary. That is the chain that is going to tie up the devil. That is where the authority of Our Lady is going to be found. Remember, this is the time that Our Lord has given to His mother. This is her time, and if we are not deeply into the prayer of the Rosary and deeply into the life of the Church and the Sacraments and the life of prayer, we will have no part of it. We have heard about all of those who will be dead; and those whose names were not written in the Book of Life are going to be thrown into the pool of fire with the devil.
And it is not just a matter of sitting back saying, “Well, gee, I believe in Jesus,” because we heard very clearly what it is about. There are millions of Christian people who are thoroughly duped by Satan and they believe firmly that as long as they believe in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior they are going straight to Heaven. Nowhere – NOWHERE – in the Bible does it say that, nowhere. But they have believed it. It says right here in the Book of Revelation that the dead were judged according to their deeds. So they had to believe in Jesus, but they had to act on that belief. So it is putting the faith into practice.
Are we living that faith? Are we going to be part of that remnant? Are we going to be part of that group that will reign with Our Lord? Or are we going to be part of those whose names will be found among the dead because we claim belief in Jesus Christ but refuse to live it? We spoke it on our lips but our deeds spoke otherwise because we were embarrassed to be known as Catholics in the world. We did not want people to know that we were really going to live our faith, and so we waffled. When we showed up at Mass we looked very pious, but as long as we were away from the church then we fit in with everybody else. Our judgment will not be a happy one if that is who we are. If, on the other hand, we are deeply rooted in prayer, we are living our faith, and we are standing up for what it means to be Catholic, then we will be in good shape. But we need to put it into practice. It is according to our deeds that we are going to be judged. We profess our faith in Jesus, now we have to live it. That is what is incumbent upon all of us.
The whole thing is laid out for us in these readings today: the way for us to be able to live, the way for us so that we are going to be able to survive the period of trial, and the way that we know that things are going to occur. All of these things the Lord spoke of have happened. They will happen again. Our task is not to worry about that. Our task is to make sure that our souls are in the state of grace and that we are deeply rooted in prayer, that we have taken up the weapons that Our Lady has given to us – particularly the Mass, Confession, the Rosary, and a life of daily prayer – so that we are growing in holiness, that we are performing the works of holiness, and that we are living the faith that we profess so that we will be one with Jesus, that we will be able to reign with Him in this world and in the next. That is our task and that is our glory – but it is also our choice. No one is going to force it upon us; we have to choose it. It is being offered. The Holy Father has made clear what Our Lady’s desire is. It is a question of whether or not we are willing to answer her invitation, to accept, and to live the faith that we profess.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.