Reflections on the Readings
First Sunday of Advent - November 30, 2014 - Year B
Jesus and the Future
Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. (Mark 13:33)
Jesus does not ask us to speculate about the future. He asks us instead to embrace it, to look forward to the consummation, to understand that he has plans for us to be where he is. This is called eschatology and is that part of theology that has to do with the final events of history and the destiny of all things culminating in the glorious return of Jesus. Far from a future filled with disaster the end of time is not the end of us.
Scripture describes our future as a blessed hope: For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us 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, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:11-14)
It's because of this blessed hope that we are not filled with fear about tomorrow. We don't know about tomorrow, about its troubles or trials, about its beginning or its end. Yet he who holds tomorrow in his own care holds our hand. And in fellowship with God's own Son we await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ who will keep us firm to the end; the future filled and running over with goodness, truth, and beauty.
Too often the blessed hope is preached with fear instead of as an invitation. Jesus invited people into his presence. His words, the miracles of healing and exorcism, the children who sat on his lap and the lepers who fell at his feet restored and the hungry who ate with him all found him inviting and approachable. I remember as a kid I heard preaching trying to scare all of us into salvation. But Christ is more than a fire escape policy provider. He is the way, the truth, and the life. The life we now live in the flesh is the life we find in him whose life is alive forever more.
For now the Lord has left his work in our charge and he will come again. In the mean time he inspires us with hope and invites us to be alive in our faith. Christ challenges us to be alert and awake to the future that he is preparing for all who love him. This future in Christ is filled with hope for all of us, for the living and the dead. For the dead in Christ shall all rise to meet him in the air and we who are alive shall join them and together we will enter into that heavenly procession to the Father's house, prepared for all who love his appearing.
For you see my friend, He who is the centerpiece of time is the Lamb in the midst of the Throne of eternity, slain from the foundation of the world. Marked by the signs of our salvation on his back and brow, in his hands and feet, him we love because he first loved us. And that love will bring us home. May our love for him and one another never grow cold. We know not the day nor the hour, but that love that draws us toward him is familiar and endearing and covers a multitude of sins. For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever.
Dennis Hankins, a Catholic Evangelist, is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com