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In today's readings, we are reminded of the end of time.
The first reading tells us of Michael, the great prince. NOT ME, but the archangel Michael :)
St. Michael is the guardian of the Catholic Church. He protects us from the wickedness and snares of the devil (Revelation 12:7-9). Michael will appear during a time of distress in the world, the dead will rise and will join those who are "written in the book" or who are saved (Luke 10:20, Revelation 20:15). Judgment will then follow. No one will escape this day (Luke 23:30, Revelation 6:16). It will be too late for atheists and others who live into this day rejecting God, including those who knew of Christ and the Catholic faith, but refused to be part of both (Matthew 7:23). However, we must not fear this day (Revelation 22:20). If we live as we must live (in grace), do what is asked of us by Christ and His Church, we will be fine. We will "shine brightly... like the stars forever" and prepare for the Lord who is our inheritance as the Psalm tells us.
God is indeed our inheritance. The reason why we are even catholic is because we want God. Being Catholic is not like being part of a social club or something of the like. Instead, being catholic is taking responsibility for our lives and the lives of others by trying our best to be holy and call others to holiness with love and not judgment (1 Peter 1:16). God is whom we await especially as we approach Advent. We will be glad and will rejoice when we finally inherit God. For now, we encounter Him via the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist.
In the second reading, we read of the vain attempt of Jewish priests who offered sacrifices daily in atonement for sins but these sacrifices did nothing to remove them (Leviticus 21). Instead, the one and only priest, Jesus sacrificed Himself for all (Romans 3:25). He took His seat next to the Father and waits until all enemies become His footstool. Jesus waits now until the day comes when He returns to judge the living and the dead.
The Gospel tells us of this day. There will be great tribulation before it happens (Matthew 24:6). We saw this week the horrors of terrorism in the attack on Paris. While that was going on, Japan had an earthquake and minor tsunami. These events add more emphasis to the Gospel in today's context. Jesus describes how the cosmos will change. The sun will go dark, the moon will not have light, the stars will fall from the sky (Isaiah 13:10; 34:4). These are metaphorical statements using the apocalyptic language of the time. The sun will go dark one day after it runs out of fuel. All scientists agree this will happen. Naturally, without the sun, the moon will not have light to reflect to the Earth. Stars do not fall because they are light years away, but the point is made: it will be a big event that alters the universe. As a student of science, what comes to mind here is the universe collapsing on itself. This would most definitely present itself as Jesus described. This of course is just my way of seeing it from a scientific standpoint and is not theological. Anyhow, Jesus will come in the clouds with His angels. The 'elect' or those who fought the good fight and did not fail will be gathered (2 Timothy 4:7-8. Matthew 25:31-46). Judgment will follow of course. Jesus reminds us that this day will be noticeable to all via the signs just like a fig tree and its branch becomes tender and grow leaves indicating summer is near.
The Earth and Heaven will pass away, but Jesus makes it clear that His word will not pass away (Isaiah 40:8). Jesus closes by stating something what many Protestant sects seem to ignore: "But of that day or hour, no one knows." If I had a dime for every time I heard a Pentecostal, Baptist, or Adventist preaching on the street about Christ coming at so and so time. This is nonsense. Jesus made it clear that no one knows exactly when. Our job is not to play guessing games on this day, but to prepare for it (Hosea 10:12, Matthew 24:42-43, Matthew 25:1-13, 1 Corinthians 16:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:6). We can only know when it is near. The Church teaches us what we must look for in the catechism in paragraphs 668-677. First Christ will reign through His Catholic Church which is happening now. Next, all things must be subjected to Him, "The 'full inclusion' of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of 'the full number of the Gentiles." After this happens, the Church will face her biggest trial ever when the Antichrist comes. Let us be watchful, pray and be holy always. No one knows when the day or hour will come. In the meantime, let us prepare by going in grace, love and hope; and by calling others to it by inviting them to the Catholic faith not only with words, but with our witness. May Jesus Christ return soon and may He have mercy on us all!
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