Apocalyptic times?

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By LEONARDO BOFF*

Today we do not need God's intervention to put an end to the sinister history of current times

I'm not apocalyptic. These are apocalyptic times. The accumulation of tragedies occurring in nature, wars of great devastation with genocide of thousands of innocent children, the collapse of ethics, the suffocation of decency in political relations, the suffocation of fundamental human values, the officialization of lies in virtual media , the dictatorship of the materialistic culture of capital with the consequent exile of the spiritual dimension, inherent to the human being, lead us to think: Are the biblical prophets wrong when they write about apocalyptic times? We know exegetically that prophecies do not intend to anticipate future misfortunes. They aim to point out trends that, if not stopped, will bring the announced misfortunes.

I have always been struck by a frightening text, included in the Bible Judeo-Christian. What kind of experience led its author to write what he wrote? I believe something similar is going through many people's minds today. The text says: “The Lord saw how much the wickedness of human beings had grown on earth and with all the plans of their hearts they tended towards evil. Then the Lord regretted having made human beings on earth and his heart was hurt. And the Lord said: I will exterminate from the face of the earth the human being that I created, and with them the animals, the reptiles and even the birds of the air, because I regret having made them” (Genesis 6, 5-8). Wouldn’t the evil that rages across the vast world justify this consideration?

I would also add the apocalyptic text collected by the evangelist Saint Matthew: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; look, do not be disturbed... it is not the end yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are the beginning of sorrows” (24,6:8-XNUMX). Are similar phenomena not currently occurring on a planetary level?

It seems that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, with their destructive horses, are loose: The first white horse assumes the figure of Christ to deceive the greatest number of people. Jesus warned: “Be careful lest anyone deceive you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ; they will deceive many” (St. Matthew 24,4:5-XNUMX). Saint John in his First Epistle maintains that there are “many antichrists… went out from among us, but they were not of us” (2,18-19). Today, among us, those who proclaim Christ abound, gather crowds in their temples and preach the opposite of what Christ preached: hatred, defamation and satanization of others.

The other fire horse symbolizes war, in which they cut each other's throats. Today there are 18 places of war with great decimation of lives.

The third black horse symbolizes famine and plague. We were visited by the coronavirus plague, now by dengue, by influenza that bring illnesses to millions.

Finally the bay horse, whose color symbolizes death (the color of a corpse) that today victims millions and millions of people in countless different ways (Revelation 6, 1-8)

Today we do not need God's intervention to put an end to this sinister story. We ourselves created the principle of self-destruction with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons that decimate all humanity and also nature with its animals, reptiles and birds of the sky. And there will be no one left to tell the story.

This he once said, and I heard him personally together with the great Argentine singer Mercedes Soza (La Negra) on the occasion of an Earth Charter meeting, which Mikhail Gorbachev was coordinating. Such frightening speech by a head of state, with hundreds of nuclear warheads and all types of lethal weapons, reminds me of what one of the greatest historians of the last century confessed, as a reaction to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Arnold Toynbee in his autobiography : “I lived to see the end of human history become a real possibility that can be translated into fact not by an act of God but of the human being” (Experience, Vozes 1970, p.422). Yes, the destiny of life is in our hands. If there is an escalation and strategic nuclear warheads are used, it would mean the end of the human species and of life.

In addition to the nuclear threat, which some consider imminent, given Russia's war against Ukraine with Vladimir Putin's threat to use tactical nuclear weapons, there is also the emergency of climate change. Among us in Rio Grande do Sul, Europe, Afghanistan and other places there have been devastating floods, in addition to wiping out entire cities from the map. Notes a New Zealand scientist, James Renwick of the University of Victoria: “Climate change is the greatest threat humanity has faced, with the potential to ruin our social fabric and way of life. It has the capacity to kill billions, through hunger, war for resources and the displacement of those affected.”

What can we expect? All. Our disappearance, due to our fault and inertia or the irruption of a new consciousness that chooses survival, with care and an emotional bond with Mother Earth. The well-known economist-ecologist Nicolas Georgescu-Roegen suspected that, “perhaps the destiny of the human being is to have a brief but feverish, exciting and extravagant life rather than a long, vegetative and monotonous life. In this case, other species, devoid of spiritual pretensions, such as amoebas, for example, would inherit an Earth that would continue to be bathed in the fullness of sunlight for a long time” (The Promethean Destiny, P. 103).

Christians are optimists: they believe in this message of Apocalypse: “I saw a new, new heaven and a new earth, because the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared and hell no longer existed… I heard a loud voice saying: behold the tent of God among human beings. He will set up his dwelling among them and they will be his people and God himself with them will be their God. He will wipe away the tears from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will there be mourning nor crying nor fatigue, for all this has passed away” (21,1:4-XNUMX).

We must be like Abraham who “against all hope had faith in hope” (Saint Paul to the Romans, 4,18), because “hope does not disappoint us” (Romans, 5,4). That's what we have left: hopeful hope and, positively, hope.

*Leonardo Boff He is a theologian, philosopher and writer. Author, among other books, of The quest for fair measure: how to balance planet Earth (Nobilis Voices). [https://amzn.to/3SLFBPP]


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