Is YOUR Soul in Order?

| December 1, 2012

Even though our culture begins celebrating Christmas earlier and earlier (even before Halloween!) I always like to remind the people in my pews that for most of this month of December we do not celebrate the Christmas season (because that does not begin until the 25th).  Rather, we are now celebrating the Advent season, which is very important.  Advent is a time of preparation and anticipation, but not only for the birth of Christ.  Actually it is only the final week of Advent that really focuses on the birth of Jesus Christ.  The first three weeks of the season mainly focus on the Second Coming of Christ.  Christians refer to this as the “end times.”  Secular society also talks about the end times, but the secular view usually has to do with the end of the world, whereas Christianity sees the end times as Christ’s return to earth to establish His Kingdom.

I bring this up because, as you may know, some people are predicting that the world will end on 12-21-12, based on the end of the Mayan calendar.  I do not put any stock in these predictions because people have been predicting the end of the world for probably as long as there have been people in the world, and not a single prediction has yet come true.  For me, as a Catholic Christian, I put my belief in the words of Jesus: “But of that day or hour [of Christ’s return], no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32).  So, could the world as we know it end on Dec. 21st?  Sure.  But it could also end on Dec. 20th or 22nd, or in the year 2072, or 3295.  We don’t know – only God does.

And what exactly will happen when Christ returns?  I preached about this at my parish a few weeks ago when the Gospel reading at Mass talked about this, so allow me to share some of what I said.  In chapter 13 of Mark’s Gospel, when Jesus teaches about the end times, He talks about the signs that will occur (the sun will darken, etc).  However, many people tend to only focus on this and forget about what He says next.  Jesus says that He, the Son of Man, will come in the clouds with great power and glory, and that He will gather His elect from the ends of the earth and the sky.

Now, for those who subscribe to Christianity, this first of all tells us that the world will not simply end.  Rather, the end times mean that the world will be transformed, that Christ will establish His Kingdom on earth and show all the nations that He alone is Lord of heaven and earth (and don’t ask me what that will look like, because no one has seen it yet!)

Secondly (and most importantly), Jesus said that He will gather His elect.  Who are they, who are the ones whom Christ will take to Himself?  It is those who strive to follow God’s will.  In other words, even those who are not explicit members of the Christian Church can be saved if they sincerely tried to follow God in their hearts.  But the key point here is that Jesus does indicate that there will be a difference among people.  We hear this from the other Gospels as well.  In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus talks about how, at the Last Judgment, God will separate us, putting some people on His right (those who did His will) and some people on His left (those who did not).  Those on His right will go on to eternal life, and those on His left to eternal punishment.

With that in mind, let’s go back to the prediction about 12-21-12.  Whenever end-of-the-world predictions happen some people prepare for the end by stocking up on food and supplies.  But if you believe the Gospel account of the end times, then confessing our sins would be an infinitely better way to prepare than piling up all the food in the world.  When we confess our sins to God we’re telling Him that we’re sorry for the times we have not done His will and we sincerely want to do better.  And it is that heartfelt attitude – and not any amount of survival gear – that will put us on God’s right side when He separates us in the Last Judgment.  So, for Catholics, celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation is invaluable.  And for people of other faiths, I would encourage you to confess to God in whatever way that your faith suggests.

And that is my point with all this: we do not have to wait for the end of the world to make things right with God.  We can and should do that all the time!  Whatever you understand the end times to be, many of us probably agree that it will happen at some point.  But regardless of when or how it happens, the most important thing is to get our spiritual affairs in order.

So regardless of what does or does not happen on Dec. 21st this year, the question that we should all ask ourselves every day is: is my soul in order?  Would I be ready to meet the Lord today?

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Category: Articles, Local Church News

About the Author ()

Fr. Rob Schultz is a lifelong resident of the Chicago Archdiocese and has been the pastor of St. Beatrice Catholic Church in Schiller Park since July, 2009.

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