It is almost 2012, and the world will soon be ending. At least, according to the Mayans and a fundamentalist preacher in California, it will. Even though the Church’s readings in November, the end of the liturgical year, and Advent, the beginning, point toward the Second Coming, I have, I admit, not been overly concerned.
But then I had an unusual conversation a few weeks ago with a priest who was passing through town, one of those delightful Jesuits one meets who could be described as “a little crazy, in a good way.” On the surface, this good priest appears a tad unkempt, but you can tell from the way he prays the Mass—and he is praying, not performing—that the man has real spiritual depth.
While visiting our community, this man talked about his time, many years ago, working on the Rosebud Reservation, where I am now stationed. He talked about working with prisoners and people in one of the reservation’s most depressed communities and then said, almost out of nowhere, “It was here that I realized that prisoners and the really destitute have an intuitive understanding of the apocalypse—the good news of the apocalypse.” And then his voice rose slightly and he gave his little-crazy-in-a-good-way laugh and added, “Because it is good news.”
I realized I had never thought of the apocalypse as good news before, but I should have. The Bible itself ends with an urgent prayer for the Lord’s swift return: Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev 22:20). We pray for the end of this world every day in the words of the Our Father, Thy Kingdom come.