In Advent we join with our ancestors in their longing for the coming of Messiah. For example, Jeremiah speaks,” In those days Judah will triumph and Israel will live in safety… and people will see the saving power of Yahweh our God.” (Jeremiah 33: 14-16)
In the Spiritual Exercises St. Ignatius proposes the contemplation on Incarnation: The Holy Trinity is looking at the world. Humankind living in war, deprivation and untold misery. They are not able to save themselves. Hence, the Holy Trinity decides to send the Second Person to take our human flesh. This is what we celebrate as the first coming of Christ into our human history.
The effect of the first coming is that Jesus making the Church as his visible body. Now the work of salvation is to be carried through the Church, which is the sacrament of the world (Sacramentum Mundi). Jesus now comes to us through his word and sacraments, especially the Eucharist. It is the presence of Christ among the faithful, providing them with the food they need for their pilgrim journey to the final Kingdom of God. In all their struggles, joys and pains and even in death Jesus is going to be with them. In the announcement of the good news of salvation by missionaries and evangelists, Jesus has promised to be with them even unto the end of time. This is what gives confidence to the Church in spite of all the ups and downs of this world. This is the constant coming of Christ in the liturgy or prayer life of the Church and of all believers; in the events of our daily life and all that surrounds us.
Then of course He is going to come at the end of time. We are asked to be ready and vigilant. In Daniel, the Gospels and the Book of Revelation apocalyptic language is used; “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the turmoil of the ocean and its waves; men fainting away with terror and fear at what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming with power and glory.” This is the second coming. It is the judgement time. “When these things happen, stand erect, hold your heads high for your liberation is near at hand; stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to hold your ground before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21: 28-36)
Scripture speaks clearly about the Second Coming. Why is the time of the Second Coming not revealed? It is because we have to be alert to the final days. We should be ready and prepared any time for the final coming of Christ. Instead of being worried or anxious about the end, whether it is our end, or the end of creation, we should be at all times rely on God and do all that has been entrusted to us to do by the Master.
Pope Francis says that we should be wise to think about last days or what is known as “Judgement Day” because it is going to be the harvest time of God. The Book of Revelation uses the image of he angels of the Lord armed with sharp sickles reaping the harvest (Revelation 14: 14-19). This is asking us to examine our lives, how we might be judged when our hour comes.
Naturally we do not like to look at the end. We always put this thought aside, especially young people. However, we must take inspiration from our own young saints, Stanislaus Kostka, John Berchmans and Aloysius Gonzaga. They were ready and prepared at all times. They went against the passing attractions and glamour of this world. They kept the ideals of the Society of Jesus. As the G.C. 36 says, “We are happy and consoled when we are in touch with our roots.” These saints asked: “Quid hoc ad aeternitatem? What is this to all eternity? They kept the end in their view.
No one on earth lives for ever. Every life will come to and end. God will want to see what we have harvested. What has been the quality of our lives? Yes, there will be and end. But the end will be an encounter, a meeting with Christ, our King and Redeemer. It will be our meeting with the Lord of the harvest, Christ our Lord. The Gospel is asking us to be watchful lest our hearts will be coarsened with many worldly matters (Luke: 21: 25-28) So we are called to remain in a mood of expectation and alertness. The first coming of Jesus as a poor babe in Bethlehem, his life and teachings on earth, his death on the Cross and resurrection. Now we are expecting Christ in the daily events of our lives, through the Church and her sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, and then His final coming at the end of the world to call each one of us home, God’s everlasting kingdom, our lasting home.
Remember, our life is placed between the first ad the second or final coming of Christ. Th Second Coming of the Lord will be the climax, the finale. It will give meaning and purpose to the longing and desires of the nations and the subsequent first coming of Christ. The Second Coming will be the time Christ will gather the harvest of our life on earth. And there with the Lord we shall be: There as St. Augustine says, we shall see Him as He is; there we shall sing His praises and there we shall experience a love that is perfect and lasting. (Ibi videbimus, laudabimus et amabimus). “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13: 12-13)
Fr. Joe Chira – Kerala, India