A throw-away spirituality

In the early days of Christianity, believers expected the return of the Lord at any moment. His return was synonymous with the end of the world. It’s a sad reality that it is so easy to live in 2013 so busily that we may not think about His return to us.

As the liturgical year comes to a close every November, the Church turns her attention to this consideration. The readings of the 33rd Sunday of the liturgical year propose the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem for our prayer.

Even some secular scholars accept Jesus’ prediction of the Jerusalem Temple as proof of His prophetic ability — the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. by invading Romans. And it’s no wonder the early Christians, particularly those who had converted from Judaism, saw the destruction of the Temple as an ending of the world as they knew it.

The Temple was the place of God’s dwelling on earth. It was naturally a point-of-reference for every pious Jewish person and even the suggestion that one day it would not exist was enough to make those who heard such a possibility, and those who would live through it, as a sign the end was near.

Like in other places, Jesus tells His followers to be calm because even if the world does end and He returns, the Lord will gather His own to Himself. Still, it is worth considering how the possibility of us losing our parish churches — the Christian synagogue — would affect us.

Pope Francis has warned us many times since his election about the dangers of what he calls a “throwaway” culture. In fact, before his famous interview on the airplane ride back to Rome from Rio de Janeiro from World Youth Day last summer, the Holy Father said he wanted the event to include both the young and the old because they are
the two ends of the spectrum of the life cycle most often discarded.

Out with the old and in with the new may work in some respects, but not when it comes to the human person.

It seems a contradiction that often the ones who propose recycling as a means of saving the planet are also the ones in encouraging the elderly to take a pill to treat discomfort instead of continued treatment; or who are the ones who encourage people not to reproduce so that fewer “polluting” children are brought into the world. Who would be left to enjoy the preserved pristine planet?

For us, the ending of the liturgical year offers the opportunity not to throw it out with the 2013 calendars soon to expire, but rather to look back and see how we can persevere in and pass on the message of the Lord. Our very future is at stake because at some point we all might be seen as someone to be thrown away.

Fortunately the future will extend beyond that — like a new liturgical year about to dawn. We will have the Lord because as He says, “by your perseverance you will save your lives.”

FATHER BRYAN BABICK is the vicar for Divine Worship and the Sacraments for the Diocese of Charleston. Email him at: bbabick@catholic-doc.org.

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