The Good Shepherd and The End of the World
This homily has been posted with the direct and generous permission of the late Fr. Thomas Harding, Th.D. (1918-2005).
There are some great quotations in the readings today. In the First Reading, Isaiah 25:9-10:
This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in His Salvation.
In the Responsorial Psalm, Psalm XX111, the most familiar of all the 150 Psalms:
The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul.
In the Second Reading, the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians 4:19:
I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.
In the Gospel of Matthew 22:
when the invited guests did not come to the Wedding Feast of the King’s son, the King told his slaves to go out and invite everyone whom they met so the wedding hall was filled with guests” “And so it will be when Christ the King will invite everyone into the Kingdom.
Thank God we have the Good Shepherd, Christ the King as Our Saviour.
His Second Coming will mark the end of the world, as we know it. For some time now we have been threatened by terrorism and world-wide conflict. We can’t help but wonder if the “end of the world” is near. How and when will the world end?
There are many eventualities. We generally think of the end of the world as a Sidereal Cataclysm, a doomsday,¹ a day of wrath and so we do not look forward to it.
There are so many stars hurtling about and brushing past. There are so many exploding worlds on the horizon, so surely by the implacable laws of chance, our turn will come, and we shall be stricken and killed or at least we shall be left to face a slow and lingering death in our earth-bound prison.
Meanwhile, apart from this possibility, we are ever more threatened by internal dangers, by biological or chemical warfare, by weapons of mass destruction in the hands of evil people, by onslaughts of microbes, by organic counter-evolutions. Sterility, wars, revolutions, pollution of the earth and water, the atmosphere, the stratosphere; there are so many ways of coming to an end.
So to sum up, there are eventualities. We have turned them over in our minds. We have read descriptions of them in the novels of the Goncourts, Robert Hugh Benson, the works of H. G. Wells, modern science fiction,² Star Wars, or in the scientific treatises of famous men and women.
Each of them is perfectly feasible. We could at any moment be crushed by a gigantic comet, and equally true, tomorrow the earth might quake and collapse beneath our feet. Or some individual or group could trigger a nuclear war to annihilate us all. Or we could be the victim of global warming, of gas emissions or the toxic poisons of industry, while leaders of businesses and governments could drag their feet in facing up to the warning of Kyoto Protocols and postpone their action until the year 2010 or 2020 for the sake of profits. That may be too late.
However, we have higher reasons to be sure that these things will not happen. Surely the Lord, the Good Shepherd, the Mighty Watch Man will intervene and come rattling His keys to rescue us all. Surely this is in the hands of God and His plan for the end of the world will be fulfilled.
As a matter of fact, the End of the World will be a Triumph of Christ as it is identified with His Second Coming. Christ has already put His plan into place. The last days come in two stages.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ marked the first stage. By these saving acts, Christ introduced into the world and into human history the final order of things. The new creation has begun. We already have eternal life.
The second stage will be the second coming of Christ. But I have good news for you. Before that there will be the “Golden Age of Peace”. Evil will have been reduced to a minimum and disease and hunger will have been conquered; the war on poverty will have been won and people will be living by the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount and there will be unanimity, love and peace among men, women and children on earth.
Then Christ will come on the clouds of heaven, accompanied by all the Angels in great power and majesty to judge the living and the dead.
For as lightning comes from the east and shines even to the west so will also the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24:27).
By the way you can read the prophecy of the Golden Age of Peace in the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 11:6-9 and in Chapter 65. It is described metaphorically as follows:
Wolves and sheep will be together and leopards will lie down with young goats. Calves and lion cubs will feed together and little children will take care of them. Cows and bears will eat together and their calves and cubs will live in peace Lions will eat straw as cattle do. Even a baby will not be harmed if he or she plays near a poisonous snake. On Zion, God’s Holy Hill there will be nothing harmful or evil. The land will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the seas are full of water.
So cheer up. The Golden Age of Peace lies ahead. As Pope Paul VI said on one occasion: “No more war. War no more.” Everything is in the hands of God.
May George W. Bush, Tony Blair, the United Nations, Saddam Hussein and people of all nations join together in praying to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit for the “Golden Age of Peace” to come Amen! So Be It!
References in Sacred Scripture to the Golden Age of Peace
Isaiah 11:6-9, 65:25
2 Corinthian 12:2-6
¹ In the original manuscript: dooms day
² In the original manuscript: scientific fiction
This homily is not to be copied, duplicated, modified nor distributed in any way
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