Lagura: Despite gloom, a message of hope-A A +A
In the service of the Word
Saturday, November 13, 2010
IN the dark nights of November and when the year is about to end, people start to talk about death, the end of the world. Likewise, interests are renewed in the message of gloom and doom from the Book of Apocalypse. TV channels will probably stage re-runs of Marlon Brando’s “Apocalypse Now” and “The Day the World Ended.” News reports about natural disasters from several parts of the world make people cringe at the impending final days and the dreaded Last Judgment.
The Book of Malachi (his name means “messenger,’ inasmuch as the author of an unpleasant message to Israel had to hide his real identity) warned the political leaders of Israel, as they grew rich and powerful, as well as the priests, who enjoyed the perks of their calling, while the people under their charge suffered from a bitter lot. Nevertheless, the prophet Malachi had a message of hope for the people who groaned under the burden that oppressed them.
The Book of Apocalypse, which happens to be the favorite source of many dire interpretations, actually is a message of hope. Since the Christians were living in extreme danger from Rome which had decreed that their emperor alone is lord (dominus) and god(deus) while Christians worshipped Jesus as the one and only Lord (kyrios) and God (theos), the followers of Jesus extreme and real danger. In fact, a good number renounced their faith, but many still persevered even to the point of death. In such troubled times, John—the author of the Book of Apocalypse—had to write his message in cryptic, symbolic language. But with the eyes of faith, Christians saw in it the hidden message of hope.
The gospel according to Luke—written years after the death of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem—also gave a strong warning to Christians of what would happen due to the unbelief of the people “to whom[the Word] came but did not recognize or receive him”(John 1: 11). In his sorrow at the impending punishment that would come to the Holy City, Jesus wept bitterly.
After the Roman legions had razed Jerusalem and put to the sword more than a million of its inhabitants, the survivors—among them many Christians--fled to the neighboring countries. Some places accepted them, others persecuted them. In their misery Christians received the message of hope, namely that God who was with them in the past will be with them as He had promised “until the end of the world.”(Matthew 28:20)
Nowadays, when prophets of doom try to make their voices heard, our hearts and minds should turn to Christ, the Lord and King who will one day come as a judge; he will also come as our savior, brother and friend.
And so it was told that one evening during their community recreation a confrere tried to scold St. Alphonsus Liguori as he and his friends played cards. “What would you do if the Lord would come at this very moment?” the irate confrere asked. Without batting an eye, St. Alphonsus replied, “Well, I would gladly welcome him and invite him to play cards with us!”
Yes, we are anxious at coming of the end of time. But faith in the Lord who has saved us with his blood will temper our anxiety. Instead, he gives us hope.
“I solemnly declare to you that when these things happen, the end of this age has come. And though all heaven and earth shall pass away, yet my words remain forever true.” Luke 21:3
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 14, 2010.