“Nobody Knows the Day or Hour”
These words were spoken by Our Lord a few days before the Crucifixion and just outside Jerusalem, from where He and His disciples would have been able to see the magnificent Temple, one of the wonders of the Ancient World. Just before this Gospel passage, Our Lord prophesied that all the glory they saw before them would soon be destroyed and they would not see one stone left upon another. This would certainly have shocked the disciples. It might be a bit like us being told St Peter’s in Rome or Big Ben in London would be totally destroyed. Our Lord also warns of war and conflict. All this is a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem which did take place in 70 AD.
And so in today’s Gospel Our Lord is using prophetic imagery – the sun being darkened and stars falling from Heaven. The world as the Jews knew it was about to disappear completely. Their lives were rooted and centred on the Temple which had stood there for a thousand years. All the rituals, the slaughtering of animals and sacrifices offered were about to be replaced. The Temple sacrifices were only a pre-figuring of the sacrifice Our Lord would make on the Cross. JESUS is the true “Lamb of God” who would take away the sins of the world. And all this happened exactly as Our Lord prophesied.
So now we are in what we call the “End Times”. And during this final phase, God’s grace will gradually spread throughout the whole world. But we will be engaged in a constant battle between good and evil. Ultimately evil will be defeated. And then at the end of this age, Christ will return in all His glory to judge the world, thus bringing the whole of human history to its culmination. Our Lord ends by saying nobody knows when this will all happen except the Father. We don’t need to know exactly when. But Our Lord tells us it will happen so that we will be ready. “Watch and be alert for you know not the day or the hour!” (Matthew 25:13).
One excellent way of being watchful and alert is to make regular use of the sacrament of Penance or Confession. When we make a good sacramental confession to a priest and receive absolution, we are liberated from sin and given the strength to face our daily struggles. A man once made his confession to St Francis de Sales and recited a litany of terrible sins. They came out of the confessional box and the man said to him, “You must think I’m a terrible person after everything I told you.” St Francis de Sales replied, “No, I think you are now a saint.” A good confession washes away all our sins and we come out saints washed in the Blood of the Lamb. If we do this regularly, we will always be ready for the end of the world, whenever it happens to come.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC