Monday, November 16, 2015

Billiards and the End of Time

CNN Reported that Parisians woke up Saturday to a full realization of the horror brought by the terrorist attacks of the previous evening — a violence deadlier than anything Paris has experienced since World War II.

And no place, it seemed was safe.  Coordinated attacks took place in six locations throughout Paris late Friday, including a theater, the State de France, and at least two restaurants. 

Reporters say that we do not know if other attackers are at large and police are searching for any possible attackers or accomplices. 

The "scale and complexity" of the Paris attacks "surprised everyone.".

Terrorism experts expected some kind of attack, but did not think ISIS would be able to carry off something on this scale. 

This might give us a glimpse of what the "End Times" may be like.

Audio Version Available - Click To Listen

In those days, I Daniel, 
heard this word of the Lord:
"At that time there shall arise
Michael, the great prince,
guardian of your people;

it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress
since nations began until that time.

The violence and terrorism experienced in Paris is a great distress, much like that experienced here in the United States on 9/11, but the end of times we hear will be a time of violence "unsurpassed in distress"!
Pope Francis condemned Friday night’s Paris massacre, calling the attacks a part of a disorganized World War III.

I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims, and I am praying for all of them,” the Pontiff said Saturday, according to the Vatican Radio.I am moved and I am saddened. I do not understand — these things are hard to understand.”  

That is the reality of the time of great distress, we cannot fathom or understand when or what will happen.

Mark, in his Gospel gives us this paradox:

In the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that he is near, at the gates. 

But of that day or hour, no one knows,
neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

So what do we do in the meantime?  Are we supposed to be people paralyzed by fear, evil and terrorism?

The answer is "NO"!

In fact, at every mass we pray these words in what's called the "Embolism" which is the short prayer after the Our Father... It's a prayer of deliverance from all of this.  

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

These readings both in scripture and in the newspaper should challenge us with the reality that our lives on this earth will have an end.  As we come to the end Ordinary Time and our Church year, with Advent coming in the next few weeks, we are challenged to take a look at our lives and see if there is anything we need to do to prepare for the coming of the Lord.

Hopefully we are living in such a way that we could die today and be at peace.  

Ultimately we are all called to be so converted in this life that everything we do glorifies the Lord and we in no way fear His coming.  

There's a rather playful story of this reality in the life of St. Charles.  

In the 1500s St. Charles Borromeo was the Archbishop of Milan.  He and couple of other priests were playing a game of Billiards.  While the game was going on, one of the priests said:  "What should we do if we knew that the last judgment would take place in an hour?"

One said:  "I would kneel down immediately and pray for the next hour, until the end of time came."

The next one said:  "I would go to one of you for confession and confess everything I did wrong in my entire life to have a clear conscience."

They waited to see what the Archbishop would say... after a moment of silence he bent over and stuck the ball with his stick and said:  "I should quietly continue to play the game, because I began it with the intention of honoring God."*†

This reply was of course totally unexpected and left a great impression that has been retold all these years later.  

"I should quietly continue the game... "

That is really the hope and the reality of living, -that we are all free and called to live.  

The truth is we can choose not to live in fear of terrorism, and instead with the grace of God live in union with His will for us... and we can quietly continue the game.

Now might be a good time to ask yourself, what would you do if you knew the end of time was coming in the next hour?  What would you do if you knew that your life could come to an end at any moment?  Is there anything you would change?

Regardless of your answer, we all should make a point to continue the game with the intention of honoring God

Here is a quick checklist to ensure we are doing just that. All of us should routinely make a point of asking ourselves these questions:
  • Do I have a deep intimate prayer life with God and feel his protection?
  • Is there anything that I do need to confess so that I don't have to live in fear, shame, guilt or anxiety?
  • Is there someone in my life that I need to make amends with?
  • If I were to die in the next hour would I be at peace?
  • Am I doing what God wants me to be doing with my life?
If the answer is 'no', you still have time left... only God knows how much.  

If the answer is 'yes', you are at peace... free from distress... living a life of prayer in union with God. Then "quietly continue to play the game" enjoying every moment of this life, and letting all of your actions be a praise to God.

*Adapted from: Anecdotes and Examples Illustrating the Catholic Catechism. Francis Spirag Benziger brothers, 1904 - Catechetics - 594 pages

†Special thanks to Fr. Kevin Estabrook for his homilies far enough in advance that they helped inspire this one!  Check out his blog here.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.