Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Final Values
What lies ahead of us? As we come to the end of the liturgical year, the readings today focus our thoughts upon this ever present question. We are told that there will be an end to human history, but we need to understand that the language used is a style of rhetoric employed and understood in biblical times by religious writers and orators when speaking on the end of time.

Daniel 12:1-3. This passage is fundamentally similar in style and language to the gospel message. It begins with a prediction of bad times ahead and is intended to comfort and to encourage the Israelites who, at the time, were being fiercely persecuted by Antiochus Epihpanes. It explicitly affirms the resurrection of the dead and final judgement.

Hebrews 10: 11-14 Here the unknown author continues the theme that Christ is the Supreme Priest in whom all can find a link between the "here and now" and the "then".

Mark 13: 24-32 Christ uses language common to his time and familiar to those listening to him to state that the life we have will not last forever. In time, the Kingdom of God will prevail and we need to understand that the time we have is a time given to prepare for that transformation.

Point 1: Philosophers, Theologians and your every day man and woman throughout history have sought an answer to the question that we are asking today - is time merely a succession of unrelated events? Of all the answers given down through the centuries, the majority have favoured the belief that the deeds of life culminate in life after death. Saint Augustine summed up the Christian belief with his statement - "our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, Lord". This would seem to reflect our nature - we are never satisfied. Regardless of how we try to reduce the dimensions of life to this planet, we find ourselves groping and straining towards that which is beyond it, physically and psychically. For that reason, time, far from being a succession of unrelated events, is seen to involve the past, the present and the future, which, for the religious person, is, ultimately, eternity. Morality, for such people, sets an ideal towards which they strive; they seek to regulate their lives by it. For the Christian, that ideal centres around the choice that Christ offers - the choice to respond to the love that God has offered; or, to turn away from it. To experience, ultimately, total transformation through final union with God - life in its fullness; or, total devastation through eternal separation.

Point 2: Of course, this belief in "final values" has its critics. There are those who dismiss it as "pie in the sky"; others see it as a devious attempt by priests to hoodwink people so as to control them! And the imaginative language used to present this belief lays itself open to ridicule by today's sceptics. However, the question still remains. Will there be an end of the world? Will there be a judgement? Will the time come when that which Jesus began will eventually be brought to fulfilment?

Conclusion: At this point, I am prompted to recall the lyrics of a popular song of a good many years back -"Promises! Promises! Promises!" People promise without end! Children promise that they will be more obedient and truthful. Husbands promise that they will be more considerate and punctual, among other things! Wives promise that they will be more understanding and less temperamental! Young love is built on promise, whilst old love has accepted the reality that one loves in spite of promises made and not kept. But a promise by Christ is different. He has promised that He will come for us when our time has run its course, and we believe Him. Details of how that will be accomplished are beyond our knowledge, and they are relatively unimportant. The core of that promise is not a great assembly of people in the valley of Armageddon and a judge riding in on the clouds to pronounce sentence. The core of the message is that what Jesus began will eventually be brought to conclusion. God's love, as revealed in Jesus, will eventually triumph over sin and death. And we can be part of that triumph. The choice is ours.

Scriptural reference: [John 5:24] Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life