But of that day and hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. (Mark 13: 32-33)
A radio preacher in the United States predicted (based upon some calculations he had made and what he considered to be a "code" that he found in the Scriptures) that the world would end this past Saturday, May 21 at 6 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). Obviously his "calculations" were incorrect. He is now saying that this was to be a time of spiritual awakening and the end will definitely come this coming October on the 21st.
A large number of people believed his prediction and many worked very hard by advertising to bring the prediction to the attention of everyone so that the righteous would be ready for the "rapture" when it occured. I must say I admire the fervor with which they attempted to present their message but I feel sorry for the number of people who spent large sums of money to advertise this only to have their savings wiped out because of the failure of the prediction to come true.
What do we really know about the end of the world? The quote from Mark's Gospel above makes it clear (to me, anyway) that no one knows - no one has the right calculations to predict when the end will come. Even Jesus himself states that he has no knowledge of that time. In the time after Jesus' death and resurrection many (including St. Paul) felt that the end of times would probably come soon. Later they were to revise their thinking and here we are twenty plus centuries later still wondering about it.
In an earlier post (Is the World Coming to an End? - March 18, 2011) I spoke about this and raised some questions about what we are doing to the great gift of this earth that God has given us. I can understand why some would feel our times are presenting some premonitions about the end times when we consider what is going on in the world with wars and with violent weather that has destroyed many homes and businesses (in April alone in this country there were over 800 tornadoes and one of the most violent just decimated a part of a town in Missouri this past week). Again we might ask - what are we doing to our world; is the progress we have made on so many fronts in technology, etc. causing havoc in the environment? It is a question worth pondering.
Getting back to the "rapture," is there a question to be raised here as well? Each one of us will face our own personal judgment at the hands of our God when our earthly time is finished and at some point the world as we know it will come to an end (I don't believe any of us can predict it). One of my good friends, Father Bob Longobucco, was interviewed by a local television station prior to last Saturday to ask his opinion about the end of the world. He stated (and I think it was a wonderful thought) that Jesus first came to this earth in love and with compassion and he believed when he comes again he would come in the same way.
When we face our judgment, what will be asked? To paraphrase the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 25), I believe God will ask us:
I was hungry - did you feed me?
I was thirsty - did you give be something to drink?
I was a stranger - did you welcome me?
I was naked - did you see that I was clothed?
I was sick - did you tend to my needs?
I was in prison - did you visit me?
These are the questions we will be asked. Because as Jesus tells us: Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. (Matt. 25:40)
I don't think we have to worry about October 21st. We simply need to ask ourselves - are we ready to answer the questions God will put before us when we come to judgment? The time is now to be ready - it is always the time to be ready.