Last week, yet again, the apocalyptic prognostications of yet another doomsayer were proven wrong. The world did not end as expected. The extinction level event scheduled to mark the end of our tired journey upon this earth was postponed. The long-expected end of humanity has been rained out. Try again next week.
And someone will try again next week. If there’s anything true about humanity, it’s that we crave a good story, and a good story is marked by a good end. Indeed, it may be said that we are a generation itching for a good end. At the close of this century of Fatima, a century marked by so much war and suffering, so much fear and agony, it may be easy to imagine, to long for an end, but it’s difficult to imagine a good end. It’s in that tension between the desire for a good end and the fear of a bad one that we find ourselves overwhelmed in the existential angst of the modern age. It’s so messed up!
The other end of the world was messed up, too. Wait, what? The other end. You know, the beginning. The Bible says it was messed up. It was tohu wabohu. That’s what Gen 1:2 said. Formless and void. Chaotic and empty. Before God formed the world, it was messed up. It had no structure and no contents, it had no purpose, it had no identity – until God called it into existence and gave it form and filling and purpose.
Whenever in human history man has withdrawn from God, the world has gone tohu wabohu all over again. Formless and void – and we feel it in our hearts. The angst of the modern age, the craving for an end to it all, arises among us in the despair we feel at our own existence. We want an end, but we fear it won’t be a good one, and fear – a gift from God, but still a lesser gift – holds us back from the brink.
A century ago, the Mother of our Lord appeared to three peasant children in Fatima, Portugal. She told them to pray the rosary, and offered it as a solution to the problems of the rapidly unfolding 20th century. As we stress and worry and fret over the state of the world, anxious to see the modern nation states work out their differences, let’s remember the real root of our problems – our thirst for God – and quench it with prayerful reflection on the life of Christ. Then we’ll be able to see the real end beyond both ends, beyond the end and the beginning, our eternal end in Jesus Christ.