If the world were to end just as this is published, at nine in the morning on the North American east coast, it would probably have already happened in most of the world. In the Philippines, for example, it is now ten in the evening. At the International Date Line, it is two o'clock the following morning. Conversely, had it begun at the International Date Line, it would have been seven o'clock on the East Coast -- the previous morning. Maybe I would have received one last text message from Sal, a fond farewell from the other side of the planet. Maybe my correspondents from Quezon City would have sent something other than “Lahat ay magiging maayos” (“All will be well”) earlier today. So then, we're in the clear -- for the moment.
The prospect of the world ending, and doing so unpleasantly, has been a pop culture obsession for over a decade now, from apocalyptic aftermath to zombie invasion. As to the calendar running out of days, C G P Grey has given us a perfectly good explanation as to why even the present-day Mayans concede to their ancestors having made no such prediction. And even if they had, we know better, don't we?
Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man.
For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark,
and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man.
Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left.
Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into.
Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
As we contemplate this scene in our final video, from the ending of the 2011 film Melancholia, consider how the Catholic tradition marks three o'clock in the afternoon as "the hour of mercy." It is then that I will go off to a quiet place away from the office, to pray all fifteen decades of the Rosary.
We all know there are only fifteen, don't we?