Jesus warns us about false prophets and false messiahs. Once I met the “Messiah”. At least he claimed to be the “Messiah”. We had interesting conversations, inspired largely by his curiosity about the end times and the “rapture”. He assured me that the end of the world will come on December 12th, 2012.
Scripture is very clear, both in the prophets and in Jesus’ teachings: The world will come to an end. The prophet Malachi tells us,
“Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
and the day that is coming will set them on fire,
leaving them neither root nor branch, ….”
Church Tradition and the Bible teach repeatedly that there will be an end to the world. This is not allegory. There will be a final judgment. Evildoers will be condemned for eternity. We do not know what Hell looks like, but it is not in God’s Kingdom, because they rejected God and his Kingdom in their beliefs and choices.
The “Just” will find Salvation and eternal life. The prophet tells us that the “Just” don’t have to worry, when he says,
“But for you who fear my name, there will arise
the sun of justice with its healing rays.”
In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” Perseverance. Keep doing the right thing. Follow all of God’s commandments. Keep loving. If you sin, go to Confession and be reconciled to God and the Church. Keep caring for the poor and working for justice. Persevere in faith and love, and hope for eternal salvation.
Jesus warns us not to get distracted by end of time phenomena that even he predicted, like the “2012” nonsense. He tells us not to waste our time looking for the end. We simply won’t know until it happens; and then it will be too late. Instead, we better be prepared! Persevere!
The popular discussion of the “rapture” is a dangerous distraction. The rapture issue regarding the words from Scripture that “…one will be taken, one will be left…” is only important for those chosen to go to Heaven. It’s not as if those who are left will get up the next day wondering, What happened to Sally?” It’s over! There may be signs in the heavens, but SO WHAT? Time will just end! The world will end. We will be judged. The “Just” will go to Heaven. The rest will be condemned to Hell. That is all we need to know. Everything else is distraction to keep us from persevering.
Who goes to Heaven? Those who persevere in justice and sacrifice for others. Those who are faithful and keep God’s commandments. That is what we believe as Christians. This is what we teach. We are “Easter People”, people of the Resurrection.
Meanwhile, there will be temptations to distract us. There will be false prophets, false teachings and false Messiahs as Jesus warns us.
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!”
And Jesus warns us that those of us who persevere in faith in this world will be persecuted in this world. He said,
“Before all this happens, …
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.”
Remember, they hated him first. If they hate you because of him, then the persecution is aimed at him, not you. Don’t take it personally. Jesus said,
“You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.”
If you are not being persecuted, perhaps you are not living and spreading the Gospel.
Ours is not a “feel good” religion. Do not be deceived by preachers who teach how wonderful life is as a Christian, as if we had a warm-fuzzy program of self-help with rewards in this life. That is false.
The promise Jesus makes to the faithful, the just, to those who keep his commandments is eternal life in heaven. By our faith we will defeat Death. Jesus tells us,
“… not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
(I once heard an atheist’s funeral described as, “All dressed up with no place to go.”)