Jesus said, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon,
and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring
of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is
coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they
will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now
when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your
redemption is drawing near. Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed
down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that
day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on
the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have
the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand
before the Son of Man.”
Today we hear our Lord’s prophecy concerning the end
of the world and how we should prepare ourselves to meet it.
Jesus first used the language used by the prophets
that is in Isaiah 13:9-10 and 34:4, Jeremiah 4:23-30, and Joel 2:19 to describe
a visitation of God on his sinful people and therefore symbolic. However, this
language can also be taken literally here because certain convulsions of the
universe may precede the general judgment. And as such convulsions happen, it
is logical that some people would die of fear.
But Jesus assures us now the “Son of Man”, the title
that was used frequently by Jesus to describe himself, will come in power and
glory at the end of time. Compared with his first coming in meekness, humility
and poverty, his second coming will be as judge in his divinity and his divine
He also comforts us that his true followers will have
nothing to fear on that day. Instead, they will have reason to rejoice greatly
for the gathering of all the elect – the completion of the number of the saved
will be the consummation of all their hopes. Nevertheless, he reminds us at
this point that even the good and the virtuous must be ever on their guard
because life has many temptations.
We should also bear in mind that no matter how long he
judgment is deferred it will be too soon and it will come suddenly on the one
who is not prepared for it. This is because the final judgment will depend on
the result of each one’s particular judgment and it is the latter that really
matters and it is for this that we must prepare. No one will be spared from the
judgment. How can we prepare for the judgment? Jesus told us to pray. What he
meant is not that we must be always on our knees but we must be always in God’s
friendship and trust in his loving mercy.
Being Christians, this earth is not our permanent
home. However, many of us still live and act as it were. Jesus does not ask us
to ignore or despise this earth or this life but he does ask us to estimate it
for what it is. It is a period of transit which properly used will earn for us
our eternal home. If we judge ourselves daily we need not fear the day of
judgment. If we are loyal and faithful to our Christian vocation, our end on
earth will not be an end but the beginning of our true life.
What better occasion could we have for taking a
serious and sincere look at ourselves and at our attitude to life and the
things of this life than this Advent season? Amen.