God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love (2 Tim. 1:7)
The end is put before our consideration at the beginning of the new liturgical year. And the gospel accounts about the end are frightening. Even more terrifying are the descriptions elaborated in hell, fire and brimstone sermons. Yet the basic intent is not to strike fear into people.
What is aimed at, first and foremost, is that we disciples of Jesus secure our lives by perseverance in the faith. It is desired that we keep our eyes fixed on the one who is the Beginning and the End, lest we get deceived by those who guarantee the imminent coming of the end as well as the identity and the time of the Messiah. We are exhorted to imitate the leader and perfecter of faith, who endured the cross for the sake of the joy awaiting him, and to see to it that the foretold trials and tribulations to come not prevent us from focusing on waiting for the glorious coming of our Savior. We are made to understand that, without reference to the Son of Man who will come with great power and glory, the prediction about the end will only lead to despair and to morbid and paralyzing fear.
To let ourselves be paralyzed by fear, including the anxiety over the cataclysm that may occur on December 21 this current year, when a Mayan Long Count calendar of 5,125 years duration will end; to become insensitive due to carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, such that we are caught unawares by the end:—this is not what God wants for us. God wants us to stand alert and be imbued with the vivacity of someone who watches excitedly and prayerfully for the arrival of the loved one who is her reason for living, and to put our trust in the one who commands us not to prepare our defense beforehand and assures us that not a single hair of our head will perish. God’s will is that we, just like St. Paul, have the pervasive sentiment and ardent conviction that nothing or no one will separate us from the love of Christ.
Otherwise, time, instead of being non-existent, as it is for those who love—to cite Henry Van Dyke—will be too slow, as it is for those who wait, too swift, as it is for those who fear, too long, as it is for those who grieve, too short, as it is for those who rejoice. Love means permanence and continuity in the midst of the vicissitudes of life. For indeed: “Hours fly,/Flowers die; New days,/New ways,/Pass by;/ Love stays.”
In love, the beginning is the end. The person who, loved, begins to love will end up loving and loved, as proven to be true by the intercessions of a throng of poor folks going to meet, says St. Vincent de Paul, the one coming to her end and her beginning: “My God, she is the one who helped us for love of you; My God, she is the one who taught us to know you.” It will surely be the final joyful meeting of those who, abounding in love for one another and for all, shall have begun to serve and wait for one another at the Lord’s Supper.