Do you ever pray for the end of the world? Do you ever actually find yourself looking forward to the end of time? Do you consciously long for the moment when all time will cease and the Reign of God will actually and fully be in our midst? Most likely this is something that not many of us think of very often, let alone actually hope for.
Yet each year, in the Advent / Christmas cycle, we find ourselves in the midst of a time in our Church’s liturgical year, half of which is devoted to the very idea of looking forward to “the end of time.” Just listen to the words of the liturgy which we pray every Sunday, week in and week out: “Lord Jesus, you will come in glory with salvation for your people...” (Penitential Rite) “He [Christ] will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead...” (Profession of Faith) “we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again...” (Memorial Acclamation) “Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the saving Passion of your Son...and as we look forward to his second coming...” (Eucharistic Prayer III) “and, as we await his coming in glory, we offer you his Body and Blood...” (Eucharistic Prayer IV).
Every year, during the season of Advent, we're reminded of this element of our faith, this aspect of our liturgies: part of being a Christian, a member of the baptized, is to keep one eye focused on now, and the other eye focused on that final day, “the day of the Lord," as the Prophets called it. And more than that, to look forward to that day; to actually pray – daily – that it come and that it come quickly!
Think for just a moment, how you might behave if, each morning, you began your day with the thought – the hope – that “Maybe it will be today!” How might your actions be different if you spent the day with an anticipation, a hope, of, “Oh, let it be today; please let it be today…” Would you be as short with your family members? Would you act unkindly towards those with whom you work? Would you pass that homeless person by without giving even a thought? If we really lived by, "maybe it will be today", might not the Kingdom of God be just a bit closer?
Even though many would think the end of the world something to avoid, you have to admit: the idea can sound somewhat attractive. To see the end of life as we know it now, with its pain, with its suffering, with its trials and struggles, and to have it all (including each of us) be recreated by God; made anew; to have everything as it is now be so engulfed and surrounded by the fullness of God’s love (which can seem to be so missing in today’s world) that it is, literally, a new creation because of it. Then would it be the fulfillment of the Lord’s ancient promises (cf. this Sunday’s first reading from Jeremiah).
"Come, Lord Jesus!"