Dec. 1 is the first Sunday of Advent, and thus the first Sunday of the liturgical year. On Nov. 24, we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King, as the One whom we would meet at the end of our journey. We look forward to the same Jesus as we begin this new liturgical year.
One thing is clear. We are on a pilgrimage and Jesus waits at the end to welcome us into eternal glory, if we have been faithful to living His Gospel message.
In the first reading, Isaiah simply states that we are on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, which is the Lord’s mountain. God desires to instruct us in His ways and to walk in His path. God’s word will change the hearts of people and enable them to live together in peace. When His word touches our hearts, our attitudes, behaviors and values change. That is where we are today. Our behaviors must change all the way to the kingdom.
The responsorial psalm tells us that when we are on the way to the kingdom, our hearts are filled with joy.
In the second reading, Paul says it’s time to wake up from sleep; “For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” We are not to spend our time in sin, but rather, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.”
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.” He concludes by saying, “for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
We have no guarantee that we will wake up tomorrow morning, or that we will make it through the day. All we are guaranteed is that Jesus will be with all who follow His path.
In our everyday, secular life, we know there are no guarantees, thus the reason for life insurance policies. However, do we have a supernatural life insurance policy? Have we been to confession lately? Have we been faithful to Sunday Mass attendance? Do we pray daily? Are our relationships in order?
The good news is that we don’t have to fear facing Jesus at the last moment if we walk with Him daily. It isn’t a matter of following rules but of following Him.
How often do I think of Jesus throughout the day? Do I only seek consolations from Jesus, or do I give consolation to Jesus by the way I treat fellow travelers? Do I give Jesus joy when I do not return an unkind deed? Do I ever experience participating in His gracious attitudes toward others?
Do I readily embrace unexpected demands others put upon me, even if they inconvenience me? Do I rejoice that Jesus invites me to join Him in generously embracing unexpected suffering? How do I feel when that happens?
Jesus invites us to enter into a rhythm of embracing suffering and joy. The joy we experience is a radar beam from the kingdom of glory that helps us anticipate our eternal future. That future starts when the Son of Man exercises His judgment at the end of time.
What will that future glory be like? As the Little Flower was reflecting upon this, she came upon a passage from Father Charles Arminjon in his book “The End of the Present Word and the Mysteries of the Future Life.” She copied the following passage into her autobiography:
“As no mother ever loved her dearest son, so the Lord loves His predestinate. He is jealous of His dignity and could not permit Himself to be outdone by His creature on the score of fidelity and generosity.
Oh! The Lord cannot forget that the saints, when they once lived on earth, paid homage to Him by the total donation of their repose, their happiness and their whole being; … And the grateful God cries out: ‘Now, my turn!’ The saints have given me the gift of themselves: can I respond other than by giving myself, without restriction and without measure? If I place in their hands the scepter of creation, if I surround them with the torrents of my light, that is a great deal; it is going beyond their highest hopes and aspirations, but it is not the utmost endeavor of my Heart. I owe them more than Paradise, more than the treasure of my knowledge;
…I must be the soul of their souls. I must penetrate and imbue them with my divinity, as fire penetrates iron; by showing myself to their spirits, undisguised, unveiled, without the intervention of the senses, I must unite myself to them in an eternal face-to-face, so that my glory illuminates them, exudes and radiates through all the pores of their being, so that, ‘knowing me as I know them, they may become Gods themselves.’”
This is a description of our future, if we befriend Jesus daily in the time we have left on this earth. Jesus enters into us when we reach out to others. Jesus strengthens us in our state of life. Jesus develops in us the gift of fidelity. Jesus surprises us with joy from time to time, as He surprised the disciples on the way to Emmaus. Jesus enables us to not give up hope. This is the life He wants with us every day!