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!