142198193.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-largeIt so happened that the gospel at Mass this past weekend as we near the season of Advent was St. Mark’s take on what Jesus said about the end times.

….the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.

Dang, that gospel – as well as similar words coming from St. Matthew, St. Luke, and let’s not forget the light-hearted Book of Revelation as written by St. John – scared the HELL out of me when I was a kid. Frankly, it makes me squirm even now as an adult. I used to get caught up in all of the predictions about end times until Bill reminded me that Jesus goes on to say But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Oh yeah. I’ll start using up the canned beans stored in my basement in preparation for the end of the world.

Despite becoming so mature, I will admit that I was struck by Mark’s gospel in light of the dreadful circumstances in Paris this past week. I wondered if and how the priest would address all of this in his homily. Is the world, in fact, coming to an end?

The priest who said our Mass retired from somewhere in Minnesota to the warm climes of Arizona and serves our parish during the winter months when the church’s population doubles in size. He is probably in his 70s with a gruff-sounding voice which belies his always wonderful and generally gentle homilies. But it became clear very quickly that he was PISSED OFF. He started off by saying should one of the ISIS members who terrorized Paris walk into the church, if he could make it back to him before he was gunned down by an AK47, he would punch the crap out of him. Not particularly priestly, but certainly an honest representation of the way many of us feel.

But he went on to remind us that it’s pointless to point fingers at God or wonder how God can let something like that happen. No one, said Father O’Neill, can truly understand evil. Probably not even the evil-doers themselves, who claim to terrorize in the name of Allah.

Father O’Neill never once used the word devil in his homily. Instead, he continued to use the word evil. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know how I feel about the idea of a devil. It’s a concept my teeny little brain can’t wrap itself around. But I do know that evil exists in our world – incredibly, horribly, awful evil. But God didn’t shoot those people who went out to hear some music or enjoy a nice meal with friends or family. Evil human beings used man-made weapons to do their evil deeds. And there has been evil in our world since Adam and Eve. The Paris attacks — and all other evil in our world — are not sure signs of the end of the world. Only God knows when that will be.

Father said perhaps God is testing our love, both for Him and for our fellow human beings. “But if I could,” said Father O’Neill looking up at the ceiling and heaven beyond, “I would definitely ask the Holy Spirit to stop the testing.”

Me too.

9 thoughts on “Evil

  1. The attacks in Paris made me scared and sad on many different levels. It was amazing to see the many tributes to Paris and how the world displayed it’s love, support and goodness. One simple thing that touched me was Saturday evening when I pulled up Amazon to look up a book and their banner gave me hope. Love and goodness will always win in the end. It surrounds us everywhere every day.

  2. We had a priest who comes to our parish once or twice a month from JPII – and he talked about the evil (ISIS) but he said something that struck me, he prayed for the evil ones because they need to be shown the light of Christ, which really made think that I need to start praying for their conversion from evil to the light of Christ.

  3. I don’t believe God is testing us. I do believe that God will bring something good out of this, even though we may never be able to see what that is.

  4. The Paris experience has most likely left most of us feeling vulnerable and fearful. That’s the work of evil. And while God doesn’t make it happen He didn’t stop it either, meaning to me, He has a plan in all this. I’m so grateful to have read the end of the book and know Who wins.

  5. Beautiful post and replies! I believe that God allows for the human condition. And sometimes the human condition is ugly. However, love and grace are also a part of humanity and the more of that we show to our brothers and sisters, the stronger we will be in combatting the “evil”…for they know not what they do. I am sad as well but I am hopeful that the individual attackers realize they have not won, they have only strengthened the resolve of the free.

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