After last Sunday the readings at Mass have turned Eschatological; Holy Mother Church is now reflecting on the end of times. This of course continues to next weekend and the Solemnity of Christ the King; but it doesn’t stop there. Our meditation on the end-of-times continues into Advent, indeed the first three weeks of Advent are concerned with it.
Mankind has always tried to look forward to see what will happen – what is our fate. In his first Volume of Jesus of Nazareth Pope Benedict XVI opens with this consideration. ‘In every age, man’s questioning has focused not only on his ultimate origin; almost more than the obscurity of his beginnings, what preoccupies him is the hiddenness of the future that awaits him. Man wants to tear aside the curtain; he wants to know what is going to happen, so that he can avoid perdition and set out toward salvation.’ We just want to know. With the horrific events in Paris this week this becomes even more pressing for us. What does the future have in store for us? We have seen once again how suddenly life can end; we are nervous about our future.
But, whereas mankind looks with uncertainty and even trepidation to the future, to eternity; and is preoccupied with knowing about it; this is not why Holy Mother Church takes five weeks or so to reflect on it. There should be no worries.
The Jews of Christ’s time had a unique and healthy understanding of eternity. It doesn’t start with our death – it starts now. We too should embrace this understanding; we are already in eternity, we are already living in the Kingdom of God. Though we know that eventually we all will see the final judgement; we know what is in store – Christ. Holy Mother Church offers us these weeks of reflection to help us embrace the true path; not to ponder where it leads. Our uncertainty should be directed within; how are we living the life God calls us to.
When events such as those in Paris this week strike us to the heart, and doubt about our future swells within us, we should embrace eternity by embracing He who is the face of eternity – Jesus Christ; the one who tells us ‘Take heart, it is I; have no fear.’ And then with open hearts longing for forgiveness and mercy, and the desire to be with Him we can be at peace because will know what lies in store for us – the mist of the future will separate pierced by the light of Christ.