Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
LK 21:5-19
November 13, 2016

Last Sunday, through Luke’s Gospel, Jesus gave us a glimpse of what awaits those who are redeemed in the Blood of Christ. We bring this liturgical year to a close on this 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2016, listening to Jesus offer a rather grim description of events to come. In fact, approximately 30 years later, the Roman Empire did as Our Lord foretold. The great Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Chosen People were driven out of Jerusalem, were forced to abandon the Promised Land. But, the passage also applies to things STILL to come.

A little over a year ago, three of the greatest minds of our times, Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates joined other scientists and engineers at an international conference held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The purpose of the gathering was to discuss rising concerns among many in the scientific community over what is referred to as “artificial intelligence.” Basically, what they were discussing was computer technology, especially as it is used in warfare. Many people might not know this, but there have been recent advances in research and development in the area of “autonomous and self-aware robots.” It is hoped that these machines will eventually take the place of human soldiers on the battlefield. In an open letter, the participants in the meeting express their belief that artificial intelligence has the potential to become more dangerous than atomic weapons. The concern centers on “the ethical dilemma of bestowing moral responsibilities on robots.”

It is interesting to consider that, in addition to his concerns about “artificial intelligence,” Hawking warns about the very human tendency toward aggressive behavior. He has been quoted as saying: The human failing that I would most like to correct is aggression. It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory, or partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all. Unfortunately, while science and technology might well find ways to monitor and control artificial intelligence so that it is only used for the good of humankind…there is no way of eliminating aggressive behavior. It is a consequence of the original sin. Not even Stephen Hawking can “fix us.” Only God can!

In her book, “Love Unknown,” Carmelite nun Sr. Ruth Burrows writes: The more highly developed a people, the wider their knowledge and ability to control worldly factors, the greater the danger. Science and spirituality seem to intersect here. We still harbor the aggressive nature of “cavemen,” except now, the weapons of choice are not sticks and stones. We have indeed advanced to the point that we have the means to destroy the entire planet. Even our children know this. This reality makes a great case for hopelessness…which, in turn, fuels aggression.

Sr. Ruth Burrows and all people of faith share the concern for the planet and for humanity that brought the greatest minds of our times to a meeting in Argentina. While few enjoy the same depth of scientific knowledge as those in attendance, many have been gifted with spiritual wisdom that brings with it the ability to see beyond the edge of the universe…beyond time…and into Eternity.

Christians should not fall victim to hopelessness, even in the darkest of times, because we know that “time” and the “material world” were never meant to go on without end. Even most scientists agree that our universe is moving…unfolding…evolving. What WE KNOW (which they might not) is that the direction we are moving in…is TOWARDS CHRIST!

Christ is The Beginning and The End…The Alpha and the Omega.

When the Risen Christ returns in glory, He will usher in The Reign of God. From that point forward and for all eternity, there will be no more aggression, war, hunger, envy, injustice, or hatred. It is God’s plan to destroy all that is CONTRARY TO GOODNESS, PEACE, AND LOVE! It is God’s will that all The Chosen dwell in harmony in the New Jerusalem…in the promised land that can never again be invaded or destroyed.

The exact cause or the nature of “the end” might be something we talk about and speculate over. But for people of faith, it should be of little consequence and certainly nothing to worry about. What comes after “the end” should be foremost on our minds and anxiously awaited. What comes “after” is what we celebrate next weekend…CHRIST THE KING!