Thy Kingdom Come
As we move imperceptibly from the end of the last Liturgical Cycle into a brand new one today, we might wonder why today’s Gospel is so similar to last Sunday’s as to be almost identical in places. What does the end of the Church’s year have to do with the beginning? Why are we again being asked to focus our attention on the end times? The answer is one that renews our hope, that remotivates us and allays our fears about these end times and even about the end of our own life.
Today is Advent Sunday. A new start, when instead of thinking of our life and our death in terms of the wickedness we have committed, we think of them instead in the light of the coming Saviour who came to save us all from Satan’s power. Just as he came to this earth on that first Christmas, so he will return “in a cloud with power and great glory.” And if we “walk honestly,” living our lives “not in rioting and drunkenness,” as St. Paul admonishes us in the Epistle this morning, “not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying,” then we shall have nothing to fear when our Lord does return to judge us.
Our Lord gives us every possible chance to change our evil ways. He has sent his beloved Mother to Fatima to plead with sinners to convert, and in the end times he sends the signs that we spoke about last week to push us ever more urgently towards the confessional, towards, absolution, towards a more serious commitment to a life without sin.
This week, we are urged by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans to “awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” We must awake, not because of all the terrible things that are round the corner, but because our salvation is round the corner. “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” Darkness shall be replaced by light, by the coming of the Light of the World to the children who now dwell in darkness. This is our hope, this is our great and beautiful hope, that these days of darkness in which we now live will be transformed by the coming of our Saviour once again. Christmas has always been a time of great rejoicing, and even in difficult times, the spirit of the season never fails somehow to make its mark upon us. We can now look forward once again to the future, to a wonderful and happy Christmas, and more importantly to the eternal joy that will come to them that “cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.”
Let’s start our Advent today by putting on that armor of light, a light that will never be extinguished by the evil men of this world. They might persecute the children of light, but that light of Christ shall shine forth upon us, now and forever, enlightening us in the trials of this world, and then eternally bathing us in the light of the beatific vision. If the end of the Church’s year made us contemplate the coming trials, today’s start to the new year puts our fears in their true perspective, bringing us the hope of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, no matter whether he comes to a humble manger in Bethlehem, or whether he comes again in glory to judge both the quick and the dead. No matter whether he comes as a Little Child or as an all-powerful Judge and King, he is the same good God. Our only response is to fall on our knees and worship him. Child and Judge, he is coming. He is not far away.