When I was a small boy I harbored terrifying anxieties about the end of the world. In those days the gospel admonition that one will be taken and one left seemed immanent. There was the reality of Communism, the cold war, and nuclear holocaust. Looming large was apprehension over the year 1960, when the third and final message of Fatima would be revealed. Days of darkness, major wars, and natural disasters seemed certain messages as to what was to come.
Looking back, I feared both that God’s other foot would drop and/or that man would destroy himself. Decades later, as I write this, I am even more convinced that man will be the instrument of his own end. After all, the world of the Garden of Eden was destroyed by man. Why should we think he will not destroy the current world – the world of our “second chance?”
And yet, maybe the whole idea of the end of the world draws too much on its physical and material demise. Maybe the end of the world is an end to a particular era of human history. We closed the book on the Garden of Eden. Maybe the Christian Era is about to end, or at least as we know it and have shaped it. Just maybe in the evolution of our relationship with You we have so bungled Your message, Your Good News, that to get where You’d want us to be another new beginning is necessary. Maybe the reign of God as we know it is undergoing a metamorphosis from the exterior to the interior life – maybe that’s the way it was always meant to be. In order for this to happen a lot of our world must end.
The Flood in Noah’s time was the end of the world for all but a few to whom it was left to make a new beginning to, so to speak, get on track again. One powerful dictator in the last century nearly brought the end of the world to all Jews. We suffer individual ends of the world when everything is taken from us and we are destitute and the only solution is to make a new beginning. Maybe the point we miss most is that all the ends of the world we might experience are really about new beginnings.