The End Times and Hope

There is only one thing more terrifying than the Mass readings we have as the end of the liturgical year draws near, and that is the people who claim to be able to understand and interpret them. Every generation tends to see signs of the approaching end. Calamity follows calamity, and we are plunged further and further into gloom and despondency. Of course, that is not the case for all. Our present political difficulties seem to be encouraging some to hope for high office for themselves, and I daresay some entrepreneurs are continuing to make money out of what others experience as disasters; but for most of us, there is a recognition that we are entering into a kind of darkness where old certainties are less assured. Our interior landscape mirrors the exterior, and it can be bleak.

It is at such times that the virtue of hope is both most necessary and perhaps most difficult to practise. We try will-power, with little success; we lecture ourselves (or even worse, someone else lectures us); then we grit our teeth and  just soldier on. There is something to be said for simply doing our best and accepting that it isn’t perfect. Hope is what I call a cinderella virtue. We tend not to notice it until we need it, but when we do , how hope can transform a situation!

Most of us have something we are hoping for. Some of our hopes are slightly absurd — wanting great wealth to fall into our laps, for example — others are more modest — being able to cope with illness or a practical problem, for instance — but, whatever we hope for, we know that wishing alone won’t make things happen. We have to pray and work. This morning as we listen to the words of the gospel (Mark 13.24–32), let us keep our hopes high and prepare for the end times with confidence in our Saviour Jesus Christ. There is no other way.

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9 thoughts on “The End Times and Hope”

  1. Many years ago I was sitting under a tree at our Retreat House, talking to Martin Palmer, then the Head of the World Wildlife Fund. He had just organised a conference about Global Warning for world political and religious leaders. I asked him whether there was any difference between the two groups. He replied that the political leaders tended to agree that that the hunan race was writing a auicide note and killing the planet. The religious leaders, bowever, had hope for the future.

  2. Thanks. All to easy to fall into gloom and despondency – even without the unsettling readings!

    A shake up is good but need to avoid seeing the future as hopeless. Good to have a positive message about end times which can frighten even the most confident among us.

  3. Amen to that. I think it was Herbert McCabe who said – but maybe many have said it before – that faith is having confidence in what we hope for. In that light, bracketing these two virtues, we are encouraged to hope for what we can in conscience confide to Him in whom we have faith. So not an avalanche of cash, then!

  4. If the End Times are a thousand or a million years away then think of all the beautiful souls yet to be born.
    If I pray for Jesus to come right now I fall into a trap, because I am asking God to put me before his plan.

    All our End Times though are in sight because God has given a finite time for each of us to find His Son. Jesus the great hope.

  5. I am interested in the thought that each of today’s readings was relevant to “End Times”, because I preached on them this morning. I am no expert of the theme, but it occurs to me that lots of people waiting for God’s Kingdom have a skewed view of when it will come. Perhaps, like the disciples they want to know more, but how does anyone interpret the signs of the times?

    We have so many events “War, Famine, Natural events and more occurring in our world, but to we attribute them as signs of “Birth Pains” or do we attribute them to either nature or man made disasters. I recall the talk of “Rapture” a few years ago, where a date was supposedly given for it, and many people were taken in by those who claimed to “speak in his name” but were in fact false prophets, meaning that those who sold everything and devoted their time waiting to be raptured (as part of a supposed selected elite) were disappointed. What damage was done to their faith and trust in God and biblical texts, wrongly interpreted as prophecy.

    I actually drew on Bex Lewis’s book of a year or so ago “Keep Calm and Carry On” about the WW2 Propoganda poster, and what it hoped to achieve by it. Because I could see a connection between that and Jesus’ admonition to the disciples not to be alarmed by the signs, the birth pangs, of his new Kingdom, basically to keep calm and carry on doing his charge to them to go and to make disciples. Meaning for me anyway, not to seek to blame God for disasters, but to persevere in prayer and action, because these decisions are not yet revealed to us. Living in hope of the Kingdom is different from living in fear of the Coming Kingdom of Good.

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