By Edgardo C. de Vera
When will the world end? How would it come about? What might it be like? A cousin preoccupied with these questions during our teens asked his father who wryly replied, “When you die, that will be the end of the world for you.”
Not many of us think about the end of our lives, much less the end of the world. Nonetheless, over centuries prophets, sages, seers, and charlatans have predicted the end in one way or another. Time and again there have been false and failed predictions that hoodwinked many from misinterpretations of Biblical verses on the Second Coming of Christ – Parousia – which is associated with the End Times.
First century Christians believed the imminent return of Jesus Christ during their lifetime. So did heretics like Montanus who twisted verses to suit his false teaching, he claimed the embodiment of the Holy Spirit and caused much confusion and dissent with his “third testament”, predicting the end and rebirth of Christianity’s remnant in Turkey. In AD 431 he was condemned along with his teachings by the Council of Ephesus.
Much closer to our time, Charles Wesley, founder of Methodism predicted the end would fall on 1724. Sequential end time predictions were forecast by the Jehovah’s Witnesses: 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1941, 1975, and 1994. Baptist Minister William Miller gathered with his congregation at a high hilltop to wait for Christ March 21, 1843 and again on March 21, 1844; after nothing happened he checked his calculations and predicted a new date, April 18. That the day came and went hardly disappointed his followers as he reset the date October 22, 1844 and announced it finally exact – much to his congregation’s chagrin since all had by then already disposed of their belongings.
There are others like Miller and have become the butt of jokes, often made fun of and satirically portrayed; we are all familiar with that caricature of a long haired bearded man in biblical garb holding a placard that reads, “The end is near.”
In the 1970’s a documentary video of Nostradamus’ predictions caused a stir and provoked interest in the end of the world, which purportedly was to occur around 1998; forgotten until the closing of the 1990’s when the world became abuzz with speculations about the “Millennium Bug” might catalyst to trigger the end. Come January 1, 2000 it came to be known as the “Millennium Dud”.
Contemporary interest in the End Times comes from Media hype on the Mayan calendar that ends in the year 2012. Proponents, convinced by pseudo science and scholarly studies shoehorned to fit similar ancient end time scenarios from the Hopi Indians, ancient Hindu lore and Chinese astrology, have predicted December 21, 2012. A cousin says in jest, the Mayans simply could perhaps not count beyond 2012.
A blockbuster movie on this theme, entitled “2012”, garnered millions of dollars at the box office, again teasing minds about the end. As Hollywood would have it, there are survivors. Disturbing though was the remnant that survived: the influential, the wealthiest and powerful of the world that found space in the modern arks, save for a meagre few insignificant ones that included (naturally) the hero and his family.
What the Church teaches is what we profess in the Creed: Christ will come again as judge; in the end there will be only death, judgement, heaven and hell; when no one knows. Jesus will told His disciples that not the angels or even the Son of Man know of the time and date; only the Father (cf. Mat 24; Mk 13); he certainly knew the time and date in His divinity but not in His humanity “...though He was in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Phil 2:6). He did say signs will precede His Second Coming before the end of time: wars, reports of wars, appearance of false prophets and loss of faith “...when the Son of Man returns will He still find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8) the last being the most telling indicator.
Christ and His disciples warned of false prophets (cf, Mat 7:5, 24:24; Mk 13: 22; Lk 6:26; 2 Tim 4:3; 2 Pet 2:1; 1 Jn 4:1). Unbridled evil has come to us in all forms: two world wars and dozens of unending, regional and fratricidal conflicts that have claimed millions upon millions of lives.. Senseless belligerence and unabated carnage of human lives continues in petty conflicts, untold millions murdered in abortion, crime escalating worldwide. Gross immorality, politics of hatred, destruction of the environment, and the catastrophic consequences of sin in destructive earthquakes, droughts, floods, weather gone berserk, famines, crop failures.
People have become inured to the daily barrage of bad news that hardly anybody gets shocked anymore. The reality that God is continually being mocked is farthest from people’s minds who find comfort instead in entertainment, voyeurism in media, and divisive politics. Many Christians are unaware of the ensuing massive apostasy that will consequentially pave the way for appearance of the Antichrist. He will be championed as a liberator to free man from trappings of religion. He will symbolize total rejection of Christ and the Gospel, which at present time is lived by countless little antichrists John mentioned in his First and Second Epistles.
It is a doctrine that “...the Church must face a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers...” Many will fall away to embrace “...the form of religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth” (CCC 675). The Gospel will be preached to every corner of the world and a period of persecution will follow. Many fearing persecution or ridicule will deny Christ. Fence sitters will be counted among apostates. Today as the Church is repeatedly maligned in media a collective form of amnesia has set in; most Catholics refuse to speak out in defence of Christ and His Church. “So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Rev 3:16).
In the last one hundred and fifty years there had been over two hundred and fifty apparitions of our Blessed Mother – fourteen adjudged by the Church as authentic while dozens are still undergoing scrutiny. Her messages are not new revelations but what the Church calls “private revelation” apart from “public revelation” that comprise the Deposit of Faith. There is no new divine revelation and none forthcoming, all revelation ceased with the death of the last Apostle, John.
Mary does not pinpoint to any particular time or date but warns of consequences of sin as she urgently urges all her children to return to her Son. Her maternal advice, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5) echoes in this final hour when more and more drift away from the Gospel. As Queen of Prophets her plea is consistent with the clarion call of the prophets in the Sacred Scriptures, a call to fidelity, penance, and prayer.
We do not know when the end will be nor should we be overly preoccupied by it. All things come to an end yet what we dread as the end is nothing other than entrance to eternity. What matters is to “...guard the trust and keep free from profane novelties in speech, and the contradictions of so-called knowledge, which some have professed and fallen away from the faith” (1Tim 6:20-21).
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