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WE ARE TO LIVE IN HOPE FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Thursday, Last Week of the Year, November 28, 2013
Dan. 6:12-28, Dan. 3, Luke 21:20-28


"And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken" (Luke 21:25-26).


Christ came into the world for our salvation through his death on the cross that made reparation for all the sins of the world, satisfying God's justice on our behalf. When we hear this good news, which is the gospel, and put our faith in it, we are saved and freed from the sadness of guilt, and we are given a new life in God. This is the joy of the gospel, which Pope Francis speaks about in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), published two days ago, on November 26, 2013.


All of us who have heard and received this good news, this gospel, with faith experience its joy in our life, which is the joy of liberation from the sadness caused by sin and guilt, and the joy of now having the life of God within us; and we try to share this joyful, saving message with all the world. It is a joyous message about the liberation of the human spirit. It is the mission of the Church, given to her by Christ (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15), to evangelize all the peoples of the world with this joyous, saving message from God.


Now we are awaiting the second and glorious coming of Christ at the end of the world to consummate all things, and renew the heavens and the earth (2 Pet. 3:13). We are thus preparing ourselves and our world for these final days of glory and joy. But there will also be great tribulation in the final days, like that at the destruction of Jerusalem. "And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars" (Luke 21:25). "And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:27). We are now at the end of the liturgical year, and so at this time we focus our attention on the final days of the world.


Our attitude at this time should be one of joyous expectation and vigilance, living in the spell of his glorious coming, which will fulfill all our desires and fill us with God's love. We want to be in vigil for this day, enchanted by its beauty, focused on it, living in its light. We do not want this great day of glory to catch us off guard and forgetful of God, but rather awake and prepared to receive our Lord with faith and love. We should therefore live a life of moderation, in the light of our Lord's coming, not losing ourselves in the pleasures and cares of life. "But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth" (Luke 21:34-35).


Rather, we should live a life of vigilance. "Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks ... You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Luke 12:35-36. 40).


This is how we should live. We are "to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:12-13). This hope of glory inspires us to live in a holy and recollected way in this world, for "every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure" (1 John 3:3).

 

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