One day on the grounds of a seminary there was this man John who was known to be a simple in his ways and he was also the janitor for the seminary as he was on break he opened up his bible as he was in the practice of doing. A seminarian named Bernard who was passing by noticed that John was reading the Book of Revelation. Bernard knew that this was a difficult book to interpret even for highly trained bible students! "Do you understand it?" asked Bernard. "Oh yes, I understand it" the janitor replied. Now Bernard was really intrigued. Here was this book that baffled scholars, that was the focus of every conspiracy theory known to humanity, and this simple janitor with little formal education, claimed to understand it! "You understand the Book of Revelation?! What do you think it means?" asked Bernard. The janitor looked up at him and very quietly said, "It means that Jesus is gonna win."
The janitor we hear about in this story has a good aspect of what the book of revelation really has to say and it ends up that “Jesus is gonna win.” Jesus in the gospel this evening/morning comforts us with the words, “Do not be terrified.” For a number of weeks now the Gospel has been focused on the Second Coming. With the gospel of this Sunday we finally get a picture of the parousia events (the end times) from every perspective: cosmic (“earthquakes,” “awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky”); social (“wars and insurrections,” “famines, and plagues”); religious (“temple...there will not be left another stone that will not be thrown down”); and personal (“seize you and persecute you”). In the midst of these events, Jesus instructs his disciples “do not be terrified.” Why? These events would seem to destroy us. Yet, Jesus tells us otherwise, because he will give us the wisdom we need to see like he does.Jesus does not see what others see. The crowd looks upon the beauty of the Temple; Jesus sees when it will be a pile of rubble. The crowd sees wars, earthquakes, famines, etc. as terrifying: Jesus sees them as the beginning of the end. Jesus sees the end of time not as the end of life, but as the time when we will secure our lives. In every case, Jesus sees the immediate happenings to the context of God’s eternal plan—a vision which calls us to hope and courage. We are always tempted at this time of the liturgical year to move too quickly to focus on the signs of the end times; this gospel calls us to focus on the promise of the end times. The readings for this Sunday are filled with hope, not doom or fear. Along with all these terrifying things, good things happen: these things do not signal an immediate end so we have time to prepare; these things give all of us an opportunity to testify to Jesus’ name and his reign; Jesus himself will give each of us the wisdom we need to speak boldly; and, most importantly, Jesus assures us that he will be the victor. Some will die, yes. Some will be hated, yes. All we need do is to persevere—that is, be faithful to our call to follow Jesus—and we “will secure our lives.”
As we hear these words of comfort from Jesus, “Do not be terrified.” Why shouldn’t we be terrified because Jesus promised us that if we persevere than we will live. My dear brothers and sisters as we hear some televangelists speak on the end times as the worst thing that will happen to us which yes it will not look pretty but if we have stay close to him he will stay close to us. As a priest I deal quite a bit with death and consoling the families and I remind them that this Earth is not meant for us. It is part of the journey; it’s like a hallway that connects us from building “A” to building “B”. We should be geared towards the end and that is our salvation; to spend all eternity with the Lord and to be at peace. Yes, this journey can be a difficult one and Christ never promised it wouldn’t be but to be assured that this world is a passing world. What I want is the world that is for all times.
Let us take consolation in the words of St. Augustine who describes the great joy we all hope to share in, “we shall no longer drink the milk of hope, but we shall feed on the reality itself. Nevertheless, even now, before that vision comes to us, or before we come to that vision, let us rejoice in the Lord; for it is no small reason for rejoicing to have a hope that will some day be fulfilled.
Living Liturgy, p. 250