Just about every night, I watch Special Report with Brett Baier, and every Friday they have a lightening round of topics requiring quick answers to the questions which are normally political in nature, but sometimes touch on sports and other entertainment news.
Tonight, on the lightening round was a discussion of the end of the world, which Harold Camping has predicted will be May 21, 2011. The host, Brett Baier, commented that the world was supposed to end on Saturday, which was kind of a disappointment because they had already planned a great deal for the Monday show. The response to the topic from the three panelists generated one response reminiscing on this being the last show on the last Friday and two other responses basically dismissing the idea of the world ending as foolishness.
That has been the general consensus as we approach the supposed end of the world date: either mocking the idea by jokingly not making any plans beyond Saturday, or dismissing the idea out of hand completely. Outside of Harold Camping and a few others, no one actually thinks the world will end on Saturday.
That is a double edged sword however. On the one hand, a majority of the population has recognized that Camping is a moron, and that his prophecy is obviously false. This is a victory for the Church as a whole because other prophecies of the end of the world were taken far more seriously and caused a great deal more chaos then what is happening right now.
On the other hand, no one is taking the idea seriously at all that the world will end at some point. No, it may not end on Saturday, but yes, there will be a day when the world will end, when Christ will return and the nations will be judged.
In dismissing Harold Camping, it appears a majority of society has dismissed the complete notion of the world ending ever. Now some of this can be attributed to the recently lost notion on the part of society of hell; if everyone is going to heaven and no one will be condemned, then the emergency of the end of the world loses a lot of its luster.
Harold Camping is wrong in saying that the world will end on Saturday, May 21, 2011. But that does not mean the world will not end ever. There will indeed come a day when the heavens will open, and the Lord Jesus will descend down flanked by angels and archangels and will judge the living and the dead. This day will be no laughing matter either; the righteous will be taken to eternal life; the unrighteous will be condemned to eternal death.
St. Matthew 24:36 says that we do not know the day or the hour that this will happen, but we do know that it will happen.
So what should do until then?
We should do exactly what we are doing now. We should live our lives, planning for tomorrow with the confidence that tomorrow will most definitely come. But we should not be surprised when that tomorrow does not come because Christ has returned today.
In St. Matthew 25:1-13, the ten virgins are waiting for the bridegroom, who was delayed in coming. In their anticipation, they fell asleep; and when they awoke as he drew near, five had oil for their lamps and five did not. The five who had oil were able to enter into the banquet hall, while the five who did not were absent upon the arrival and were not allowed in. Those who are ready for the return of Christ will be welcomed into Paradise, those who are not, will find themselves locked out.
Be ready. Go about your activities, live your life, share the Gospel with your neighbors, but when Christ returns, know that the hour has come and that your place has been secured.