Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Misguided and, Unfortunately, "Popular," Flawed Christian View of the End of this World

With all due love and respect to those who entertain the thought, worrying, that a fellow human being could somehow know with certainty the precise date that God's plan will come to fruition/this world will pass away (end) and a new one will be created by Him, recall the words of Christ:

"But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." - Mark 13:32

God could not have possibly been any more clear: We will never know the precise date as to when the "end of the world" will be, and thus should not concern ourselves with it.

Like every verse in Sacred Scripture, as human beings with limited/flawed intellects, we fail to recognize the depth of this verse when reading it at face value -- that is, when reading it without taking into account every other verse in the Bible:

In the November/December issue of "The Catholic Answer," Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D., revealed its depth perfectly when a reader presented him with the following (very common) question:

"When the apostles asked Jesus when the end would come, he told them only the Father in Heaven knows when this will take place (see Matthew 24:36). However, in the Gospel of John, Jesus clearly declares that he and the Father are one (See John 10:30). This being the case, how is it that Jesus states He does not know when the end will occur? If they are one, how can this knowledge be lacking in Jesus? This episode in the Gospel has perplexed me for years."

To which Fr. Ryland responded:

"This seemingly puzzling statement is somewhat like that in Matthew 20:23. There, Jesus tells us granting places of honor in the Kingdom is His Father's prerogative, not His. The traditional interpretation of Matthew 24:36 is that this disclaimer of knowledge of the end of history IS NOT MEANT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY. Rather, in a somewhat overstated way, it speaks of that which is NOT TO BE DISCLOSED.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church ("CCC") sums up the matter this way:

What he [Jesus] admitted to not knowing in this area [[that is,] the date of His second coming [set forth in] Matthew 24:36], He ELSEWHERE declared Himself NOT SENT TO REVEAL." (CCC, No. 474; see also Acts 1:7).

Thus, ONLY GOD knows when His plan will come to fruition, and Christ was not sent to disclose to mankind precisely when it will occur.

My hope is that more of us will no longer place our faith in fellow human beings, whose knowledge of the future is as limited as our own, and recognize that with each passing second, our time on this earth is closer to the end. Thus we would do well to use our efforts in living lives of unselfish love while we are still being given one of the greatest gifts from our loving God in this life: The gift of time.