Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Today Jesus tells us to be ready or, as Peter says in one of his epistles, “Be sober and alert!” (1 Peter 5:8) This week we have focused our attention on the return of the King, the second coming of Christ, and since we know “neither the day nor the hour” we have to choices: live as though it will never happen, or live as though Jesus could return today. Jesus exhorts us to the latter.
However Jesus knows that, as with other things in life, we quickly weary of being on the watch, of being prepared for something that never seems to come. We can only stay “sober and alert” for so long before we become complacent. Then, when something happens, we are taken completely unawares. Yet Jesus equips us for everything; how, then, has He equipped us to remain “sober and alert” until He comes again? What means has He given us to stay awake, to keep our wits about us as though we knew He was coming with tomorrow’s dawn? He has given us the Mass.
Mass, among many things, is like a drill for the Second Coming. There, in the Eucharist, He comes to us. The veil of mystery yet shrouds the full revelation of His coming, but we have faith that He is truly, fully there. By preparing ourselves well for Mass—daily or weekly—we are practicing for His return, honing our hearts to be attentive to Him now so that we are not caught off guard later.
Does He not hint at this in today’s Gospel when He tells us to “be vigilant at all times?” He tells us that “tribulations…are imminent” and we can understand this as meaning not only what will come at the end but what may come as soon as we rise from our beds. It is not always easy to live as faithful subjects of the King, and He knows this. By giving us Himself in the Eucharist and by making it possible to have an audience with Him so frequently, He has likewise made it possible to take our life with Him one day at a time. Instead of looking far off into a distant and uncertain future our King, in His goodness, has chosen to stand beside us and look just as far as the day ahead.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by all that is foretold in Scripture about the second coming, about the end times; it is even easier to be overwhelmed simply by all that is happening in the world and our own lives. Jesus knows this! He knows you, and to Him your life is too precious to be lived in constant fear. He is your Lord and King; He conquered death. With the same hand that was pierced in that battle He takes your hand, each day, every moment. Do not be afraid! For Jesus tells us as He told His apostles, “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)
Long live Christ the King!
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.