These last weeks of the liturgical calendar the readings for worship have had an apocalyptic quality about them, urging us to consider the time of “fulfillment” when the world as we know it will reach its end. The intricate symbolism and cataclysmic events found in apocalyptic literature, including the texts found in Scripture, serve the purpose of conveying a common message: the ungodly order of the present age will crumble and be reduced to nothing while God’s faithful servants will live forever in the age to come.
Some people find the gloom and doom and fiery warnings off-putting, but apocalyptic writings are meant to inspire and to rouse hope among those who are unjustly persecuted or oppressed, especially for their religious beliefs. While the wicked seem to get away unscathed in the short term, no one will escape God’s final judgment. God, who knows the secrets of one’s heart, will not be swayed by slick language or global media coverage. Opinion polls and social influencers will carry no weight. Right will triumph over wrong. In the end, God’s truth, justice, and power will prevail.
During the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent, the Church asks the faithful to do some introspection and internal preparation for the grand celebrations of Christmas and Easter. The tone of these last weeks of the liturgical calendar; however, is different yet not unrelated. It strikes me as a face-to-face reality check with these questions: Am I spending the energies of my life on what really matters? If the Risen Christ comes in glory tomorrow, will I be ready? Are my spiritual affairs in order?
St. Benedict asks his disciples to see each day as a gift given, an opportunity, to become more of what God in Christ has called us to be. We do not “earn” salvation; it is a gift offered to us in Christ Jesus. What am I doing with this gift? Am I sharing the blessings of this gift with others? Am I making sincere efforts to live out my Christian faith on a daily basis? Does my faith shape how I live my life and in relationship with others? Am I consciously investing in my forever future?
May this season of “giving thanks” include expressions of gratitude for the gifts of faith and salvation we have received from our loving and faithful God.
By Sister Therese Haydel, OSB