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(Part 52)


December 1, 2012
End of the Liturgical Year

Today’s readings:
Revelation 22:1-7
Psalm 95:1-7
Luke 21:34-36

Today is the end of the Church’s liturgical year. Today we look to the end times.

In the end, the world and the plan of God would have come full circle. God created everything in the beginning. He created paradise, the garden of Eden, where He placed Adam and Eve. It was a perfect place. A river flowed to water the garden, and in the middle was the tree of life. In John’s vision of heaven, there is “the river of life-giving water” (Rev 22:1a), and there “grew the tree of life” (Rev 22:2). It is a perfect place. “Nothing accursed will be found there anymore.” (Rev 22:3a).

There are differences though. There is no more tree of the knowledge of good and bad. Those who make it to heaven would have overcome the temptation to usurp the place of God, to themselves be like gods. Now “his name will be on their foreheads.” (Rev 22:4b). They will fully acknowledge that they are God’s people, that they belong to God. Further, in Eden there was day and night, but in heaven “night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun” (Rev 22:5a-b).

God is at the center of it all. “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it” (Rev 22:3b). The river flows “from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev 22:1b), and “the Lord God shall give them light” (Rev 22:5c).

How do we get to that glorious place? While on earth, we put on the mind of God and understand His plan for the world.

First, we recognize Him as the Creator, “whose hand holds the depths of the earth; who owns the top of the mountains. The sea and dry land belong to God, who made them, formed them by hand.” (Ps 95:4-5). If God made everything and everything thus belongs to Him, it is His plan that is best. Veering away from His plan brings darkness and evil.

Second, we recognize Jesus as the Savior. We “cry out to the rock of our salvation.” (Ps 95:1b). Sin entered Eden and paradise was lost. We found ourselves under the dominion of the evil one. But Jesus came and saved us. He freed us. He brought us back to our relationship with the Father-Creator. If Jesus is our Savior, then we must accept him as Lord of our lives and follow in his footsteps. “Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us.” (Ps 95:6).

Thirdly, we recognize that in accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord, we are now part of his body on earth, the Church. Here we find grace, wisdom and pastoral care. “For this is our God, whose people we are, God’s well-tended flock.” (Ps 95:7). If we are the sheep of the sheepfold, we must live the life of Christ within the life and mission of the Church. Here we will be guided by the Holy Spirit.

Now the devil, who brought humankind down and caused Eden to be lost, still, and even more so, assaults those who try to accept and follow Jesus. The devil tries to prevent us from making it to heaven. He causes us to sin grievously so that we are cut off from God. He distracts us with worldly matters--both pleasures and problems. Thus, especially in these end times, we are to be wary. “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life” (Lk 21:34a). Why? Because we might ending up paying a very high price--as our first parents lost paradise, we might also lose heaven. Let it not be that “that day catch you by surprise like a trap.” (Lk 21:34b-35a).

The devil knows that the end is near. He has his last chances of bringing down as many as he still can. Everyone is under threat, even those who are already with Jesus. “For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.” (Lk 21:35b). What then should we do? “Be vigilant at all times” (Lk 21:36a). Be aware of the enemy’s work, and be careful about the way we live our lives. Then, since this is about spiritual warfare, “pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent” (Lk 21:36b). Only God can truly protect us from the assault of the enemy, including the final persecution. Finally, be expectant, trusting and hopeful. After the tribulations, if we are worthy, then we will “stand before the Son of Man.” (Lk 21:36c). We will be victorious.

In this end of the Church year, we look to the end of the world. Rather than a frightening and depressing time, it will be a glorious and joyful time. Even now, but more so when we are finally in heaven, we “will look upon (God’s) face” (Rev 22:4a). Then “his servants will worship him.” (Rev 22:3c). “Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; cry out to the rock of our salvation. Let us greet him with a song of praise, joyfully sing out our psalms.” (Ps 95:1-2).

The end is near. “Behold, I am coming soon.” (Rev 22:7a).

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