The vision of judgment from the Book of Daniel may strike as much fear as hope in our hearts. “Some shall live forever, but others shall be in everlasting horror and disgrace.” Wow! However, the reading continues, “But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” We know the end will come, that we should face it with confidence and in the sure hope of our reunion with God in eternal life. If we are wise… This First Reading and the apocalyptic imagery of the Gospel should be a “wake-up” call in our earthly lives and choices.
Yet, we who believe are called to live in hope. It is hope that shapes our lives. Today we sing the Responsorial Psalm (#16): “You are, O God, my inheritance; I have all I need.” With that in mind, in our hearts and on our tongues, we need not fear. It is important that we live “resurrected lives” that reflect the hope and joy of which Daniel writes. Our worship should also reflect the anticipation of this hope and joy; and that we witness our commitment to this belief by what we say and do, both in church and out. Every time we celebrate the Mass, we remember the Christ who came, who died and rose, and who will return to gather all of us for a new existence in the new and eternal Jerusalem. We have a foretaste of the heavenly banquet right here and now; and we are joined to heaven in the Eucharistic prayer.
As always, we understand that the ending of one thing is the beginning of another. We see the advent of Advent, the coming ending of Ordinary (counted) Time. We know that the change in seasons is upon us (how many shopping days left?). We will soon light the Advent Wreath, expand the Kyrie, leave off the Gloria, change some acclamations for the new season and sing different—Advent—hymns. We will prepare for the annual celebration of the historical birth of Christ and for His birth in our hearts, and we continue to prepare for His return at the end of time.
Today, however, we gather to give Glory and Praise to Our God, to Taste and See the Word and Eucharist in Community. In the Day of the Lord The King of Glory, our hope of eternal life, will return. In the meantime, here is some advice: be busy about your mission here and now. “The King Shall Come When the Morning Dawns, and light triumphant breaks, When beauty gilds the eastern hills and life to joy awakes!” O God, we look forward to the “fullness of joys in Your presence.”