What if the world ended tomorrow?
Those who like to make doomsday predictions point to an ancient Mayan calendar that finishes a “long-count” period on Dec. 21 — presumably, they conclude, the day of the Apocalypse. (Never mind that another long-count period begins afterward, just like our calendar begins again after Dec. 31.)
It’s all a lot of hoopla, of course, that preys on people’s fears and insecurities.
Judgment Day will come eventually, but no one — including the ancient Mayans — are privy to when it happens: As the Gospels remind us: “of that day and hour, no one knows.”
Yet, Advent is a time when we’re supposed to prepare for the coming of Christ — not just at Christmastime, when he comes as a baby in the manger, but also his coming today and his Second Coming at the end of time.
The prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist remind us of this during the Advent season, when they call us to “prepare the way of the Lord” by turning away from sin and trying to live more virtuous lives.
So, what if we recommitted ourselves to doing that right now — not tomorrow or next week or after the new year, but today?
What if we made a concerted effort for the rest of the Advent season to seek forgiveness — both in the sacrament of reconciliation and from others whom we have hurt in the past?
What if we worked harder to be more virtuous, more generous and more selfless in our words, thoughts and actions?
Living in a new way
In other words, what if we really began living like the world might end sometime soon?
As if our lives might end tomorrow?
As if we might meet Jesus face to face tomorrow, and with us he would look back on our lives and how we lived them?
I bet we would change the way we do things:
- We would set aside more time today for prayer and not let the busyness of modern life steal away more of that special time between God and us, between Jesus and us.
- We would turn off the television shut off the computer and put away the smartphone, so we could play more, talk more and laugh more with our kids and spouses.
- We wouldn’t throw away today’s mail from that charity — the one that helps the poor and others in need — without mailing back a few dollars to help.
- We would call that relative we haven’t talked to for so long because of how he or she hurt us — or because of how we hurt them — and we would offer, or ask for, forgiveness.
- We would be freer with our compliments and more restrained with our condemnations.
All of us, I’m betting, would change the way we lived if we thought the end was near.
Yet, it likely won’t be coming tomorrow, or on Dec. 21, or in the days that follow.
Still, imagine if we did, indeed, live during this Advent season and beyond as if it might. The world would surely be a better place for us and those around us.