November 27, 2011

Prayerful Vigilance and Advent

The coming of the Lord is often imagined as an impending catastrophe in the distant future against which one must gamble, but this is a dangerous fantasy. For those who long for the mercy of the Lord, for those oppressed, for those persecuted, for those rejected, for those despised, for those abandoned, for those who hunger, for those who thirst, for the poor, for the meek and lowly; for all such as these the Day of the Lord will not be a catastrophe but if they cleave to Him in faith, this day will be a eucatastrophe -- a sudden happy ending; unimaginable, unexpected, uncalculable; a victory, a triumph in which every tear is wiped dry and every sorrow consoled, in which at last the personal story entrusted to each of them will be enveloped in joy.

The brief span of this present life is hurtling towards eternity, accelerating at an exponential rate with every instant of our lives. In the twinkling of an eye, when all seems most bleak, when the banality of evil seems to be snuffing out the last light of goodness, in the face of the total antithesis of all that God has promised, in the midst of a world gone crazy with insobriety and anxiety, when it would seem that for which we have most hoped was hoped for in vain -- it is in this instant of love when the Lord will come. It is humanity's great test and it is meant to be the finest hour for each one of us, the moment when the secret meaning of our lives is revealed.
Whether it is the end of time, or the end of our lives, or the countless opportunities we have to die to ourselves and live for Christ each day: this is the trial in which we repay love for love, when we cleave to love because of Him who was crucified by love, when we believe in mercy and practice it because of the mercy we have received. In this trial, the truth about who we really are is waiting to be revealed – for we are so fashioned that unless we are able to give the gift of ourselves in love the way God has entrusted the gift of Himself to us, we never fully become what we are predestined in Christ to be: the praise of God’s glory. And so, we must be vigilantly prayerful that we might recognize the hour of the Lord’s coming and persevere in the truth when the truth is most needed. Anyone who embraces this vigilance constantly discovers foretastes of the eucatastrophe that awaits those whom Christ calls “good and faithful servants.”