Tuesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
(I Thessalonians 5:1-6.9-11; Luke 4:31-37)
Every once in a while the work of Nostradamus, a sixteenth century French writer, is dusted off to make a prediction of the end of the world. The supposed seer wrote a thousand verses of poetry that are interpreted, most always after the fact, to have accurately predicted the future. But little if any of his work can be read as precisely saying what or when future events will occur. In the first reading today St. Paul tells his readers to dismiss foretelling such as Nostradamus’s of the imminent end of the world.
Paul echoes Jesus in saying that the end will come like a “thief at night.” His readers are to stand ready at all times to greet the Lord when he arrives to claim his own. Paul evidently believes that the end will come sooner rather than later, but this is not his point. Rather, he wants the Thessalonians to not make special preparation for that end. They are to stand for the end semper fi by living as “children of the light.” This means that he wants the Thessalonians to be a showcase of charity and peace.
We do not know when the world will end. There is a prediction now that a meteor is closing in on the earth and will cause its demise. Scientists say that in a few hundred millions of years the sun will run out of fuel, expand, and engulf the earth in flames. There are other, more tragic scenarios. Humans have the capacity to end life on earth with nuclear weapons. We are wise to stay prepared as Paul tells us. There is no need to live in perpetual fear, but there is real reason to practice charity and peace.