Fr. Dan's 11/18/18 Homily 

We can get accustomed to talking about religious and spiritual topics such as heaven, prayer, or morals.  And discussing virtue, or sin, or the life and passion and resurrection of Jesus can become a part of everyday discussion, and they should.  But one thing I never get accustomed to talking about or even thinking about are these apocalyptic parts of the Bible: the Book of Revelation, the Book of Daniel, and the passages in the Gospels in which Jesus discusses the end times.  I think I don’t get accustomed to thinking about them because unlike everything else, these passages are talking about things that are just not a part of daily life, and that can’t be a part of daily life.  They talk about what will happen “at that time” or “in those days” (common Biblical phrases).  They talk about the things that happen “after,” at the end of all the stuff we do here, at the end of our lives.  The imagery is strange, and even a little scary.  What are they trying to get across?

These writings redirect our attention away from everyday concerns.  They make us look toward other important things.  Not that our everyday concerns aren’t important, but they have to be seen in light of the ultimate things.  These passages ask us to recognize that eventually, everything here will come to an end: stars burn out, the sun goes dark (this is why every time there’s an eclipse people pump it full of additional meaning), floods destroy, stories end.  But a few things remain: we will remain, Jesus remains, his words and promises remain, and the memory and effects of all we have done in this life remain; none of what we do here is for naught.

Part of my role, as a priest, is to keep people focused on those things: to remind them of the “four last things” (death, judgment, heaven, and hell), of the ultimate things, of the most important things, and to help people to move toward them.  And so, it is kind of my role to encourage everyone to follow the Boy Scout Motto: “Be prepared.”  We can make predictions about the future, even rather educated predictions; the weather forecasters do it all the time.  But full knowledge?  No one knows the day nor the hour of our last minute on earth, so Jesus says: be prepared.  No one knows, “neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”  So be prepared!

         No athlete runs onto the field for the first time on the day of the game.  No fireman dresses up in his gear and runs into a burning building for the first time in the middle of an emergency.  No, they live their lives constantly being prepared for every eventuality.  The athletes run plays on the field, the firefighters run drills.  They are always prepared, because maybe this is the hour that they’re needed, or maybe it’s the next.

         And so for spiritual preparation, don’t put off a prayer.  Don’t put off confession.  Don’t put off forgiving someone.  Don’t put off being charitable.  This might be the hour that we are needed to do these things.  And if it isn’t, then good; at least we’re prepared.  But since we never know when that hour will be, we need to be prepared.