The Church’s Year is drawing to a close. Next Sunday, in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Universal King.
This week’s readings follow on from those of the last few, mirroring the fact that Our Lord has entered into Jerusalem and is in the last days of His earthly life – in a way it can perhaps be thought that He is marking the transition from Old to New – from the Old Testament to the New Testament, just as His Church moves into a new year.
Today’s Gospel comes at the end of a sequence of events and at the end of a lengthy narration by Our Lord where He describes events – distressful events – the like of which have not been seen “since the very beginning of God’s creation.”
Our Lord sets out an apocalyptic vision of the universe returning to a state of formlessness and void, which can be interpreted as the “end of the world”.
Or does He mean that the state of formlessness and void is actually the state of a soul that does not know the grace and love of His heavenly Father? It could be thought of in this way, as this is a very obscure passage. Christ was discussing two topics – the destruction of the temple and the end of the world.
The prophet Daniel alludes to the end of the world in the First Reading: “When that time comes, your own people will be spared, all those whose names are found written in the Book. Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace.”
But Daniel is not writing here as a “repent, the world is nigh” prophet, indeed, he is setting out a clear, simple statement of the facts about what will happen: those who keep the Faith, and keep God’s Commandments will “shine as brightly as the vault of heaven, and those who have instructed many in virtue, as bright as stars for all eternity”. Jesus promises that His Father will gather His chosen from the four winds.
The message of today’s Gospel is quite unambiguous: we must all be ready to face our judgement, because we know not the hour or the day when it will come. It is a clear call and reminder from Our Lord of the important things he said earlier, which we heard about in previous week’s Gospels – particularly about keeping God’s Commandments, the most important of which are to love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind; and to love your neighbour as yourself.
We must all ask ourselves “how would I get on if I were to have to face Our Heavenly Father tonight?”
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.