Our readings today focus our attention on the end times, the second coming, the apocalypse. The apocalyptic stuff in the bible can be a little scary. There are visions of dragons, visions of angles and battles and heavens shaking and stars falling from the sky. It can all be a little overwhelming, a little terrifying. And yet it’s nothing compared to our own apocalyptic moments—those times when our lives seemed to be over: a lost job, sobering words from a doctor, a high school breakup, a lost football game, betrayal from a friend. These things can be even more terrifying than flying stars.
But these apocalyptic sights and visions–both those strange things we see in the scriptures and those end-of-my-life kinds of things that happen in our lives–they need to be seen in the appropriate perspective, the perspective of what the word “apocalypse” means. The word is Greek for “uncovering” or “revelation.” And so all these visions, all these horrifying things—they are God’s way of shaking us, spooking us into recognizing the most important revelation that there is: that everything passes away except God. That is our Gospel lesson today.
Everything in the world passes away. I just got a new car. The old one, the blue goose, I thought it would last me until retirement. It lasted me five months. It passed away. Relationships of the past, many of them have passed away. Books, looks, grades, pieces of knowledge, computers, victories and failures–it all passes away. Even our lives on earth will pass away. But our scriptures today, they remind us that while even all the things on earth, and earth itself, and even heaven(!) will pass away, God will never pass away, and neither will his word says the Gospel, and our names, they are written in the book according to our first reading.
It all passes away, all the things that God gives us, they all pass away. You know, we inherit a lot from God, we get a lot from him. We get families, jobs, sunsets and sunrises. We get houses and cars. We get Instagram likes and friends and houses and food. We inherit a lot from God. And often I think we fall into a trap, the trap of loving God, not because of who he is, but because he did this for me or gave me that. Here’s what I mean. Think about a child of yours, or someone you love. That person—correct me if I’m wrong—you love that person, not because of what he or she does for you or gives you. No, you love that person because of who he is. You love him because he is.
That’s how we need to be with God, because God is all that lasts, all that endures. And he is our inheritance, according to our psalm today. Everything else passes away and is one day gone with the wind, all the gifts that God gives us and all the things and people we have. But God, our ultimate inheritance, is forever. And he is enough for us.
Last week we remembered the passing of Fr. Don, an infamous man around here. He died on November 13, 2011. He was a man who had a good sense of the beauty and fundamental goodness of this world. He knew how to enjoy the wonderful things God has given us here on earth, especially food. But, I have little doubt in my mind, that when the last few minutes of his life came, he didn’t want anything on earth, not another bag of chips or another cookie. He didn’t want even another joke, or one of his many friends to squeeze his hand. He didn’t want some great reward for his many years of wonderful priesthood. No: he wanted God. He wanted his true inheritance.
I find it only fitting to end this homily as he ended all of his. Remember that God loves you, Monsignor loves you, and I love you.