That headline may lack sensitivity in these troublesome times as people fret and worry over the Mayan prophecy which claims that the world is going to end at midnight on the 21st December 2012. Indeed.
I was watching part of a documentary the other evening on Channel 4 which dealt with the prophecy and how people were getting ready for the end of the world. One gentleman is selling bunkers and apparently they are going like hotcakes - there's an enterprising man for you. Others are teaching courses on survival techniques for a post-apocalyptic planet. I was scratching my head: how in the name of all that is holy can anyone escape the end? All the survival techniques in the world are no good when this planet pops over the edge of oblivion.
Do I believe the Mayan prophecy? Well no, I don't - I think the above cartoon may have an element of truth to it, and so too the argument that the prophecy fits into a Mayan world view which is limited to a certain cycle, so the end has to happen at that date in order to bring the cycle of cycles to a perfect end. The prophecy may be more about a mythical symmetry than anything else.
Could the world end at the midnight 21st December 2012? Yes, of course it could. And it could end tomorrow at 1.25pm as we are all tucking into our ham salad sandwiches and eyeing up the pastry for the next course - there may not be a next course.
Jesus tells us two things in the Gospel about the end, and both of them nullify the hysteria over the Mayan prophecy. First - we will not know the day or the hour of the second coming of the Lord - which will be the end: so bang goes the prophecy. Secondly, we as Christians must live each day as our last - so we must expect the end at any moment, and one moment in the future will be our last. That spirituality of the ever-present last day is a powerful spur to living a life of virtue.
And how do we, as Christians, respond to the coming of the end? We rejoice for, as we are told in Sacred Scripture, when we see the Lord appear on the clouds, we lift our heads high, for our liberation is at hand. We do not run around buying bunkers or learning how to survive on a wasted planet, we live holy lives and learn how to live as Saints in this world so we will live like Saints in the next.