It was only yesterday that the world was supposed to end, according to all the hype about the Mayan calendar. It didn’t, which wasn’t news to practicing Catholics.
We knew that if it was going to end, we’d be the last to know. Why? Because — as we hear in Mass time and time again — Jesus said:
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only… [Y]ou also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” — Matthew 24:36,44
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” — Mark 13:32
And yet, time and again, some people get whipped into hysteria by someone saying they know when the end will come. In fact, it was reported that the mother of the mass murdered in Newtown, Conn., had stockpiled a small arsenal because she believed the end was near.
Just like trick or treating on Halloween can be fun, speculating about the Mayan calendar can be fun. But it ceases to be fun when people believe it and panic, as reportedly did the mother of the Newtown, Conn., mass murder. Reports say she stockpiled a small arsenal because she believed the end was near.
But as Catholics not only did we know the Mayan calendar wasn’t accurate, we tried to tell the world so. Bishop Bernardo Bastres Florence of Punta Arenas, Chile, said those who believe the Mayan prophecy should donate their worldly goods to the Church. And Father Jose Funes, who directs the Vatican Observatory, wrote in the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano that “it’s not even worth discussing” the predictions.
It’s worth remembering Gabriel’s message to Mary — “Fear not” — is a message for us in our time, too.