When the news of the tragic sinking of the Titanic reached England, the scene outside the steamship office was indescribable.
Relatives and friends of those on the sunken vessel crowded the street in front of the office. Two huge doors were the main entrance into the steamship office.
Above one of the doors was printed in large letters: KNOWN TO BE SAVED and above the other, in equally large letters, KNOWN TO BE LOST.
Every now and then a man would emerge from behind those two doors, carrying a large piece of cardboard on which was written a passenger’s name. A deathlike stillness would sweep over the crowd, as they watched breathlessly to see on which door he would pin that piece of cardboard.
Would he pin it on the door marked SAVED or on the door labeled LOST? The crowd realized there were but two classes of people among those who traveled on the Titanic: The SAVED or the LOST.1
The readings today also tell us that there will be the end of the world. On that day, there will also be two types of people. One will be SAVED and the others will be LOST. This is not a threat, but it is a reality at the end. Jesus has warned us of many things. The things that he said have happened. He had said that he would suffer, die, rise from the death, ascend to heaven and send down the Holy Spirit, and all came true. He also said that Judas would betray him; Peter would deny him, and the other disciples would run away abandoning him. All came to be true. He had predicted that the temple of Jerusalem would be destroyed. For the Jews it would be impossible to happen. But it happened. The temple was destroyed in 70 A. D. He also predicted that his Church would expand to all over the world, be persecuted, but even the power of hell would not be able to destroy the Church. This has been true for the last 2000 years. The Church continues to grow amid persecutions throughout the ages. We can conclude that Jesus’ words are credible. And He is credible.
One thing Jesus said that has not happened. We are still talking about it and waiting for it. It is the end of the world. Based on all what have happened according to his predictions, we believe that his saying about the end of the world will also become true.
People of every age want to know when the end of the world will come. Jesus does not tell us when; he says that he does not know either (Mc 13:32). And he warns against false prophets or churches that claim they are the messiah and know the exact date. According to Jesus, they are deceivers. No one has true knowledge about when the end of the world will be. Some people misinterprets Jesus’ saying about wars and insurrections, earthquakes, flooding, famines, plagues and persecutions as signs of the end of the world. They see earthquake and Cholera in Haiti, volcanoes and Tsunami in Indonesia, floods in Asia, wars in the Middle East, extremist Islam Jihads and wars on terrorism, drug wars, and economic instability around the world are signs of the end of the world coming.
These things have been happening throughout human history in one way or another. Human history is a history of wars and insurrections. Natural disasters have happened everywhere throughout the world of all times. There is not a single year in human history that these things have not happened in some places in the world. Jesus only says that these things must happen before the end of the world but not immediately before the end of the world. Actually it is not important for us or for anyone to know when it will happen. It should be more important to believe that it will happen, and to live our life according to what Jesus wants us to live. He wants us not to be terrified, but to continue giving testimony on his behalf.
Jesus wants us to hold on to our faith amid persecutions, wars, famine, destruction and suffering of all forms. If we endure these things, we will save our lives from destruction. To endure is to take the way of the cross as Jesus did.
To live a faithful life today is quite a challenge. Nothing seems to be stable and last for a long time. All the products we use are constantly changing both in fashions as well as in technology. New models and products are being introduced every year. For example, we cannot keep up with different types of cell phones, iPods, and computer software programs. We have changed from Window to Window 95, to window 98, to window XP, then to Window Vista and now to Window 7. People are moving from one city to another because of works or living conditions. Marriage institution is also changing. It is not merely defined as a committed lasting and loving relationship between a man and a woman. Many people want to recognize homosexual relationships as marriages as well. Relationship between husband and wife is also not stable. Many people are changing spouses easily. In the United States, at least 50% of marriages end in divorce. New research shows increasing recognition of unmarried couples – gay and straight - as families. Many states are shifting toward public opinion and doing away with the traditional definition of a family: “A family is a group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together.”
Facing these phenomenons in the modern world with many challenges and temptations, Jesus is telling all his followers including us not to “be terrified,” not to compromise with the world, but continue to give testimony on his behalf, and by being persevered in our faith, we will secure our lives.
A young Chinese communist was attempting to win over one of his Catholic friends, listing for him all the wonderful things the party would do for him. He concluded his remarks by saying: “Your priest doesn’t really care for you. What gifts does he give you? He doesn’t give you any clothes or shoes.”
The Catholic boy unbuttoned his shirt and asked his friend: “Can you see the things that are in my heart?”
“Of course not,” answered the young Marxist.
“Very well,” said the Catholic boy, “let me tell you that the priest makes me presents of the things I need in my heart. When I confess my sins, he washes my heart clean with the blood of Jesus Christ. When I receive Holy Communion, the priest feeds me with the bread of angels. The clothes your party promises me will wear out; the tobacco will go up in smoke, but the gifts I receive from the priest I will take to heaven. These are the gifts that your party has overlooked.’2