Tuesday, May 24, 2011

11-05-15: 4th Sunday of Easter

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts of the Apostles 2:14,36-41 / Psalm 23 / 1 Peter 2:20-25 / John 10:1-10

Well this might be the last Pastoral Reflection ever, since according to Family Radio, the Day of Judgment will take place next Saturday, May 21st. If I understand the scenario correctly it seems that there will be a worldwide earthquake and within twenty four hours the entire earth will be one vast ruin. Many people will die and the already-dead will be thrown from their graves. The elect or saved will have experienced “the Rapture,” having evaded this rather nasty conclusion to the human project. The rest of us – sinners and infidels – will suffer one horror after another for another five months until the world comes to a final end in October of 2011.

Family Radio is an evangelical fundamentalist Christian group that claims no church affiliation. Matter of fact they claim the churches are the problem, having given in to the evil of our times (the homosexual agenda and gay marriage in particular) and believe the Holy Spirit had already withdrawn from the churches way back in 1988.

Not to be outdone by some Protestant group, its Catholic equivalent has been hard at work spreading fear and dread by alluding to the third secret of Fatima. I was under the impression that the third secret confided to Lucia by the Blessed Virgin back in 1917, and kept secret by successive popes, was finally revealed a few years back by Pope John Paul II. This group claims, however, that the third secret predicts that the end of the world will come before the year 2012. The end will come by a huge earthquake, and horrendous suffering - described in gory detail by these followers of Fatima - will be suffered by all those who do not repent or who refuse to believe.

Of course for those not especially taken by religious prophecy, there’s always the mysterious Mayan Calendar which some claim predicts the end of the world on 12/21/12. And for the really non-religious, science-no-matter-what types, who don’t want to be excluded from all this end-of-world hoopla, a firm belief in global warming and its effects can certainly do the trick.

For all the disdain I have toward those whose sole purpose in life seems to wish for it to end, there’s something to be said for deadlines. They help you focus, eliminate the superfluous, get to the heart of whatever you’re in the midst of doing. When you know the semester ends in a week or two, you finally start to work on that overdue term paper. If you have no doubt the IRS will penalize you for late payment of taxes (or, God forbid, start an audit), you manage to mail in those taxes by April 15th. That film, Bucket List, seemed to be saying the same thing – life won’t last forever: prioritize!

Is it that we human beings need to be frightened, threatened with severe punishments, in order to get us to focus on the important things in life? Does God punish because we do not believe in him or believe in him in a certain way? These are the kinds of things that just don’t seem to jive with what we expect from a loving God who always wills our good. Then again, these apocalyptic groups (“millennialists” they’ve often been called) are constantly citing biblical references, or locutions received from the Mother of Mercy herself, regarding the punishment we deserve for all our sinfulness - the way a parent sometimes resorts to scolding and scaring a misbehaving child. Problem is: when you scold and scare too often, when you cry wolf repeatedly, you not only cease to scare and reprove, but the child no longer believes you. The objective of groups like Family Radio and these Fatima fatalists is to instill faith: I venture to think, when all is said and done and deadlines come and gone, they accomplish just the opposite.

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