On this final Sunday of the liturgical year, the Church turns her mind and heart to the contemplation of the end of the world. Here she accepts the teaching of Jesus that the world as we know it is passing away, that here we have no lasting city, but seek a home that is yet to come. She confesses her faith in the Last One, Who is the Lord of the Last Things, Who will come again to our earth.
At His Second Coming, our Gospel today teaches us, the Lord will come openly and in glory, with the sign of His Cross in the sky for all to behold. He will come again not in the weakness and poverty of His Sacred Nativity in the manger of Bethlehem, but in the regal victory of His Resurrection and Ascension. He will come not to save us – He has done that already – but to judge us, consummating His beautiful work of salvation. In His First Coming, He came to sow; at the end of time, He comes to gather.
We have a tendency to fear the Second Coming of Jesus. For one, we know our sinfulness and how unworthy in ourselves we are of His Mercy. For another, we are attached to the pleasures of this life and wish not to lose them. The conquering of these fears is the blessed work of Jesus’s coming into our hearts by grace, which applies to us the salvation He won for us in His First Coming, so that we can be eager for His Second Coming.
By grace, we learn the virtue of humility, which acknowledges our nothingness before our Just and Merciful Judge and throws ourselves on His magnificent Mercy. Our humility teaches us that we cannot save ourselves and that we are to become totally dependent on Christ for our salvation. Grace empowers us to trust in Jesus’s Divine Mercy, which destroys our sins and gives us good works of Divine Love, which are rewarded in our judgment.
Our Lord’s work in our souls frees us from our attachment to creatures by making us love Him above all things and in all things. The early Church prayed earnestly for the Second Coming, crying out in Aramaic, “Marana tha!” The first disciples were eager for the end of the world because their hearts were already in God! They could love Him on Earth, but they could love Him even more in Heaven! Theirs was a happiness and joy that would only increase with His Second Coming. And so they begged for it. You and I learn much about where we still need to grow in Divine Love by paying attention to what we will miss when we die or the Lord comes again. It makes for a good examination of conscience. The Christian soul only gains by the New Creation of the New Heavens and New Earth, foreseen by John the Evangelist in the Book of the Apocalypse.
As we meditate today on the passingness of this world and the eternity of the world to come, we beg with humility the grace of holiness. We know from Jesus Himself that we will be judged on our fruitfulness in Divine Love. On this last Sunday of the year, we implore the intercession of St. Mary of the Assumption, that we may, like her, love God with all that we are and love our neighbor as ourselves all the moments of our life.
Fr. Joseph Previtali