At Bishop Miege High School where I am the chaplain, the football players have the tradition at the end of the 3rd quarter of raising their hands showing four fingers and going up and down the sideline yelling “Four!” This is to remind everyone of the importance of the 4th quarter about to begin. This is the last quarter. The game will end soon. As we come to the end of our liturgical year, the Church does something similar by focusing our attention on the end of our lives and the “four last things.”
Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell…these four things are put before us today to remind us that life does not go on forever. In the end there are clear winners and losers…heaven or hell…those are the only options. Probably everyone would say they want to go to heaven and sadly some people today even question the existence of hell. The hell there is! Ultimately God will give us what we want. If we say with our lives that we want God then we will have God for all eternity and this we call heaven. If we say with our lives that we want our way and ourselves and not God, we will have just ourselves and not God for all eternity and this we call hell.
The kids at school are all caught up in whether the world might be about to end because of the so-called “Mayan calendar.” Jesus tells us plainly in the gospel today that no one knows the hour of the ending of the world, not even the Mayans. The Mayans are dead and the Church is alive. Yet, if the thought of the world ending soon scares us, then maybe that’s good.
We would do well to assume we’re living in the 4th quarter of life. If we’re behind in some way, there’s time to rally and catch up. If we’re winning in some areas, don’t give up now; press on to the finish. The Church at this time of year is reminding us that life does not go on forever. Remember death, judgement, heaven, and hell. It’s as if the Church is running up and down the sideline of our lives yelling “Four!” Let’s not be afraid. This is our quarter. Let’s go out and win!