Here it is, the Sunday before Christmas, and we can all feel secure knowing we survived the Mayan curse that was to end the world as we know it. Actually, I don’t think most people believed the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world would happen on December 21, 2012. But enough people believed they could make a profit out of it by making documentaries and TV specials and books—all to convince that fearful, sheepish minority that this prophecy was real but survivable if they did exactly what the producers of these materials prescribed. Number one on the list: buy what I’m selling.
Armageddon is big business among hucksters and now that December 21st is history you can bet there will be another artificial deadline predicting our doom. There wouldn’t be such a big market for this ever-evolving hype if everyone just believed in one never-changing constant: the savior whose birth we celebrate as the beginning of our salvation. Yet because so many find it hard to believe Christ was born to save us, they turn to false prophets who promise them salvation they can see, touch and purchase for a price. Bomb shelters, stocked with meals-ready-to-eat, self-charging flashlights and radios, survivalist manuals, etc., etc.
One guy wrote a book about the danger of asteroids and how we need to invest in the science of vigilance so we can anticipate the coming of a rock with Earth’s name on it:
“Given enough time, and our inaction, an impact is inevitable,” he blogged via the Huffington Post. “But we’re clever animals, us humans, smarter than the dinosaurs ever were. We are just waking up to the dangers in the sky, and I think we’re intelligent enough to recognize the threat and take it seriously. … It will take time, and lots of expertise, and of course a lot of money. But that’ll be a pittance compared to the cost of doing nothing.”
This modern-day prophet is one of many who believe man has all the answers and that as long as he uses his technologically-enhanced senses we can ensure our safety from cosmic events. But some of us believe in the wiser men who followed one star 2,000 years ago and found the truth lying in a manger. The responsorial psalm from today’s mass sums up our ultimate aspiration:
“Lord make us turn to you, let us see your face and we shall be saved.”
Wiser men than today’s asteroid watchers knew where to train their eyes for salvation. As long as the wisest among us see themselves as having all the answers about where the next space rock is going, they and their followers may miss out on the second coming.