Memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin
Jesus passionately wants to cleanse and restore His temple in our very person; we therefore ought to endeavor at all times to be ready to receive Him, and we can do this by recognizing Him in others, by serving Him first in all things, by keeping our spiritual “house” in order. How will we recognize the King when He comes; how long must we remain ready? Today’s Gospel is the Scriptural equivalent of the childhood refrain, “Ready or not, here I come.”
Our daily readiness to receive Jesus in the Eucharist ultimately leaves us well prepared for His final coming, for if you strive to be in a daily state of preparation to receive Him in the Sacrament, then He could come in His full glory on any day of the week and we’d be joyful, rather than utterly terrified. Jesus tells us that no one will see the Kingdom coming; there is no visible progress that we can observe day-by-day and then, as it is nearing completion, decide to prepare for the finished product. Nor is it like seeing a distant storm or army and judging, by the speed of its approach, how much time you have to continue “as normal” until you must prepare for its arrival. No, He tells us that His final arrival will be like a bolt of lightning: no one will see Him coming, but will suddenly see Him there.
One of the manifold purposes of the Mass is to help prepare us for this final day, when either Jesus returns to the earth all of a sudden or we, at our death, suddenly find ourselves standing before Him. The steady progression of the liturgy, the ritual, the hymns, all of this is like the slowing down of time, to take a potentially startling and terrifying event and to draw it out so that it can be relished and somewhat grasped; the lightning flash becomes the morning dawn. To the one accustomed to darkness, the light is blinding; to one accustomed to the light, the darkness causes no fear, and further light only serves to enhance our vision.
Let us strive daily to receive Christ, however He comes to us, whether in the Eucharist, in the other, in the quiet of our prayer, that “the day may not catch us by surprise like a trap” (Luke 21:34-36) but rather it may be, in many ways, like any other day save that it is the last day and by far the most glorious.