Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 21, 1999
Did Mary predict the end of the world in 1999?
By SR. LOUISE ZDUNICH, NDC
My friend wants to know why the letter of Fatima which apparently the pope read in the 1960s was never published. The latest rumour is that it predicted the end of the world in 1999. What do you think?
Since this text hasn't been made public, we can't even begin to guess what it contains or whether it actually exists. It seems to me that if it did contain such a message for 1999, the pope would have let us know by now so we could prepare for the end of the world.
But it's interesting how the mysterious attracts us and the new millennium is a prime time for speculation. Just as all sorts of rumours were rife at the turn of the millennium 1,000 years ago, so they are today.
Jesus really answered the end-of-the-world question for us, when he said, "But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert, for you do not know when the time will come" (Mark 13:32-33).
Since Jesus said that even he didn't know when the end of the world would come, I doubt that his mother would have given that information to the children of Fatima.
And if we knew the world would end in 1999, what difference would it make in our lives? Then let's make that difference today. Rather than worrying about what might happen, we'll be prepared for any eventuality if we follow Jesus' example.
Even if the end of the entire world doesn't come soon, the end of our own little world will come soon enough for each of our lives is short indeed.
After 2,000 years, it's time to take the Gospel to heart, reading and reflecting on its meaning for our lives and then trying to live accordingly. We are all called to serve "the least of these," to be peacemakers, to "hunger and thirst for justice." In other words, we are called to reach out to others rather than be complacent in our own little world.
Today, there is ample opportunity to live out the Gospel. We "hunger and thirst for justice" not by simply wishing we could do something to help people far away. Sometimes, we can do something but oft times all we can do is pray for them.
However, we can open our eyes to the situations right around us. There are many needy in our own cities, in our own towns, in our own neighbourhoods. Often they are children, the elderly or the sick. But do we even see the needy in our midst?
Perhaps there isn't much we can do about the wars in so many parts of the world either. But there is a lot we can do about the wars in our own lives and in the lives of those with whom we live and work. We can bring God's love and God's peace to the world around us.
Jesus tells us to love others as he has loved us. And we know what that means - teaching, healing, reaching out to the most abandoned and needy, leading to suffering and death on the cross for Jesus and perhaps for us too.
I believe that essential to our Christian identity is a deep respect for the dignity and worth of all human persons, created in the image of God and temples of the Holy Spirit. When we truly realize that, regardless of race, creed or culture, all are loved by God, only then can we live the Gospel message.
Only then can we reach out and touch the most abandoned; only then can we work for justice and peace in our own lives, in our own little corner of the world and in the whole world. And only in that way can we stop war and hunger and homelessness.
We'll no longer have to question whether the message of Fatima predicts the end of the world.
Our answer will come when we hear Christ's words: "Come into the kingdom, prepared for you, for I was hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, in prison, a stranger and you gave me food and drink, clothed me, cared for me, visited me and took me in. . . . Whatever you did to the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you did unto me" (Matthew 25:34-40).