As the curtain gradually comes down on the liturgical year, the readings focus on the Last Things: Heaven, Hell, Death and Judgement. Unfortunately, there is a strange conspiracy of silence over those four realities associated with the end of the world. They are seldom mentioned in homilies, sermonettes or sermons, but it is in the fitness of things to exercise our minds and hearts in this regard. They form an integral part of our Lord’s command “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone” (Mk 16:15), the Good News being that of our eternal salvation.

The First Reading (Wis 11: 22; 12: 2) expresses King Solomon’s faith and trust in God’s omnipotence. The son and successor of David bows in deep humility before the One for whom the world is but a speck. His creation continues to exist because He wills it. He lauds His mercy and love. By His infinite love, He corrects “little by little those who trespass”; He gives us a long rope but also warns us. He wants us to be happy through our participation in the divine life. Not even philosophers had come upon such a marvellous doctrine before.

If we pause to review how well we accept God’s gentle interventions, which come in least expected ways, we will see that He is kind and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. His ways are so different from ours that we sometimes distrust them. His message may not be music to the ears but is the truth nonetheless. We ought to thank the Lord and praise His Holy Name, which, alas, the rich and famous sometimes fail to do.

Zacchaeus in the Gospel (Lk 19: 1-10) was an exception to that rule. A rich tax collector, he yearned for a divine encounter. He felt rewarded when Jesus visited his home. There were murmurs, because as per the Jewish law communicating with sinners meant impurity. To them, it was a scandal; to Zacchaeus it meant a change of heart. The people did not realise that the Son of Man had come “to seek and to save the lost”. Indeed, what a difference it made in Zacchaeus’ life! His act of renouncing material goods was a sign that he was ready to receive spiritual goods.

Don’t we have a standing invitation to redirect our gaze to Heaven? It pays a hundredfold to seek the Lord and His Kingdom. The peace and joy that fills us is invaluable; the treasure that awaits us in Heaven, incomparable. Hence, we should live dignified lives, worthy of the Lord’s call.

In that regard, St Paul’s message (2 Thess 1: 11; 2: 2) in the Second Reading today is ever relevant. Like us, the Thessalonians too lived in times of persecution and tribulation, which put their Christian vocation to the test. They believed the end of the world was imminent. The Apostle of the Gentiles moderates their euphoria and gives them hope of the time when Jesus comes again in His glory: those who once faced trouble for His sake will now find rest and consolation; they will be glorified, whereas their persecutors will go to their eternal damnation.

When we are assailed by temptations and fears, we must not be shaken. There are both true and false prophets in our midst; we must not rush or feel excited but be calm and discerning. We must work to let His Kingdom come here on earth. We must repent for our sins and be ready to receive our reward. For one thing is sure: God is in control of every situation and will not allow His Bride, the Church, to face defeat. Similarly, we have the reassuring words of Our Lady, Mother of Jesus and of the Church: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”