Sunday’s Gospel focussed on the end times. It is natural that we should take an interest in the subject, for the one thing we all have in common is that we shall all die – and I think most men and women would like it if it were otherwise; there is, in most of us, a longing for immortality: but there is also a fascination with end times and disasters – as any review of popular culture shows. Jesus reminds us today that only the Father knows ‘the time’. This has not stopped fallen man from trying to draw aside the curtain and take a peek, and the Bible has been misued many times by numerologists anxious to crack some ‘code’ they claim to find therein. How typical of mankind: on the one hand a definite Biblical statement – God alone knows the time – and on the other an attempt to use the inspired book for a purpose of our own; how often do we seek to put there what we want to find, whilst ignoring that which is there and from which we flinch because it cuts across our sinful urges?
For each of us the end time is within our own life time – indeed it will coincide with the end of our mortal life. That we know for sure; it is all we need to know, as well as all we can know. That being so, then everything Christ talks about will come to pass for each of us. We are assured of mercy – which pleases us; but we are also assured of judgment – which does not. It does not because we know in our hearts that we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. God forgives us if we repent and embrace Him, and that actually requires a huge leap of faith. This is not least because we know how hard we can find it to forgive those who have sinned against us, jusr as we know how hard it can be for us to find such forgiveness. Measuring things, as we do, by human standards, we are, nonetheless, invited by God into the huge mystery of His judgment of us.
At his homily this morning, our parish priest said that it is a core part of his own faith that unless we are truly evil, then God will not reject us. That seemed to some present a kind of universalism – but was not so. It was an expression of the belief that God has made each of us for salvation, to live with Him for eternity, and that if we come to Him through the Son, and if we follow the teachings of the Church, then whatever our failing – which will always be many in the eyes of God – then we shall come, at last, to the Beatific Vision at the end of all mortal things.
We do not need to search the oracles of time and space, or seek to know what not even the Son knows, because we know our end is nigh. If we act on that, and if we respnd to His love with love, then, in the words of Mother Julian of Norwich, ‘all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’