How the Story Ends

I love to watch sports on TV. The one sport that I watch more frequently than any other is tennis. When the Grand Slams are on, my TV is on a little more. Leading up to this year’s Wimbledon, the Tennis Channel was playing some of the old matches. I was watching the 2014 Wimbledon Finals which was won by Novak Djokovic. As he lost the first set to Roger Federer, I started to get a little worried. Then I remembered that Djokovic would eventually win the Grand Slam. Since I had seen the original game, I knew the outcome. The ups and downs of that match did not bother me anymore because I knew how it would all end.


Knowing the ending always keeps us calm. When we watch an old movie thriller that we have seen many times before, we are not concerned. We know how the story ends. This is also true in life. Too many people get anxious because they have no clue as to how all this will end. As people of faith, we know.

We know how the life of Jesus ended. On that fateful Good Friday, people standing around the Cross thought that His life had ended in tragedy. They thought His death was the end. How could such a wonderful, positive life come to such a terrible, tragic end, some might have wondered. Even His disciples were depressed that Friday night. They huddled fearfully in dark nooks of the great city of Jerusalem. They feared what the next morning would bring.

He had told them that He would rise on the third day. Yet they did not believe His words. When He finally appeared before them offering them peace and forgiveness, they doubted. One of them, Thomas, refused to believe unless he had hard, physical evidence. They could not come to terms with the possibility that the Father could re-write the life of Jesus by raising Him back to life.

Once they were filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples were convinced that God is the ultimate victor in human history. The destiny of nations and individuals rests in His hands. They were certain that evil could never win out, that good will always triumph over evil. They knew that, just like Jesus, they too would be glorified as long as they remained faithful. They knew how the story ends and so they walked confidently into martyrdom.

While I am in transit at some major European airport I spend my hours watching people. Often I wonder whether people know where they are going – not literally, but figuratively. Do they know how their lives would end? What awaits them when they say good-bye to their short sojourn on this planet? Do they know how the story ends? As Christians we do know.

At the beginning of his Apostolic Exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis refers to this absence of joy in our world. He writes:

The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.

I am amused when I read news stories that Google and other major companies are trying “to beat death.” They are hoping to prolong our lives on earth. We will then spend decades sitting in a wheelchair paying tidy sums to some nursing home and hoping for a merciful exit from this boring world. God has a plan for all of us. The sufferings of this world cannot compare with the life that God has prepared for us. As Paul writes in his Letter to the Corinthians, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard and nobody knows the beautiful things that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

For believers there remain the following questions. Do we really believe in the words of Jesus? Do we know how the story ends? Are we confident about how our own story will end? If we answer “Yes” to these questions, then we have only one option. We have to be people of great hope and deep optimism. The vagaries of life cannot shake us. We need to believe that even if our life temporarily goes “the wrong way”, it will end gloriously.

Such faith and hope sustained great saints in their struggles and suffering. Don Bosco used to say, “A piece of paradise will set everything right.” Seeing that Cardinal Newman was calm on his deathbed, someone asked him, “Aren’t you scared of dying?” He replied, “No. I am excited. I feel like a schoolboy who is returning home for his summer vacation.”

We all know how the story ends. Let us not live like those who do not know the ending. Let us live in hope and joy. 

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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St. Paul of the Cross

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