BISHOP ROBERT BARRON (7:53)
The End Times
Bishop Barron comments on Apocalyptic Literature
REFLECTION BY FR. THIBODEU
The “end times”have fascinated the Christian faithful from the very beginning. Early Christians who came from the Jewish community were all very familiar with “apocalyptic literature.” For example, the Book of Daniel contains some of this same kind of prophetic literature.
Toward the end of the era before Jesus’ birth, when Judaism was under occupation from Greek and Roman forces, with their “ungodliness,”their cruelty, and religious hostility, the Jewish people had developed a form of inspirational writing that gave them assurance of God’s final triumph.
“In the end, God will overcome all our enemies and we will be vindicated.”
Jesus had used some of this literary form in his utterances concerning the judgment to come upon the world. There are ‘apocalyptic passages’ in Matthew, Mark, and Luke where Jesus talks about the end of the world with its cataclysmic events, the return of Christ and the eventual triumph of God. The point of an apocalypse is that God is in charge of history, and God will not be defeated!
Of course, the Book of Revelation is the final text in the Christian testament. The whole book is an apocalypse. It says once and for all that God will not allow evil to overcome good.
The Christian community, in its early experience of persecution and suffering at the hands of the Roman Empire, continued this form of literature. Ever since, the Church has developed a multiplicity of traditions concerning “the end.”
Some of the Catholic tradition holds that Christ will return in a physical form to judge the world. The material world will be destroyed and replaced with a totally different world.
Another tradition, equally valid among Catholics, is that the whole universe will be transformed into a kind of world where all creation gives glory to God through Jesus Christ, without having the known world destroyed. In this tradition, the destruction of which the Scriptures speak applies to sin and ungodliness, not to physical creation itself.