Sunday, November 29, 2009

Now, We Watch For The Day When Christ The Lord Will Come In Glory!

Today’s First Reading is taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (33:14-16):

The days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous shoot sprout up from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure. This is the name they shall call her: “The LORD our justice.”


This is the longest continuous passage in the Book which exists in the Hebrew, but is lacking in the Greek. It appears to be the composition of an inspired writer who lived in Babylon during the exile, and who built upon the prophecies of Jeremiah, but in a sense different from the prophet’s. The prediction of an eternal dynasty ruled by a Son of David (Jeremiah 33:14-17), fulfills the prophecy of Nathan (2 Samuel 7:11-16). This prophecy, together with that of an eternal priesthood and sacrifice (Jeremiah 33:18), was not to be fulfilled by the return of the Jewish nation to the Land of Israel. It will be fulfilled only in Jesus of Nazareth, who combined with his messianic Davidic kingship an eternal priesthood (cf. Hebrews 6:20; 7:24-25).

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Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 25

R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior,
and for you I wait all the day.

R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.

R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy
toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him,
and his covenant, for their instruction.

R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

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Today’s Second Reading is taken from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians (3:12 –4:2):

Paul prays for the people of Thessalonica, asking the Lord to deepen their love of one another and for everyone. He prays that their hearts be strengthened, so that when the LORD Jesus comes again in glory, with all the saints, they will be judged as blameless in holy when they stand before the Judgment Seat of God.

Paul reminds the Thessalonians that he and his companions, Silas and Timothy, had taught them how they ought to live as followers of Christ, “as in fact you are now living.” Now they ask and urge them to conduct themselves in a manner pleasing to God. To ask is to make a gentle and friendly request; but to urge is more than a request, but less than a command. It is an urgent demand which they make in the name of the LORD Jesus. Paul reminds them about what he and his companions had taught the Thessalonians while they were with them. If they continue to follow the instructions they received, they will live in a manner pleasing to God.

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Today’s Gospel is from Luke (21: 25-28, 34-36):

Jesus said to his disciples:

"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

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The Old Testament prophets often wrote about strange events in the sky: The earth would become dark, because the sun, moon and stars do not give their light (Amos 8:9, Joel 3:15). The sea would become much more stormy than normal. The sky would be shaken.

The prophet Daniel wrote that “one like a Son of Man will come on the clouds of heaven (Daniel 7:13). Jesus said that he would return to the Earth in the same manner. In the Hebrew Scriptures, a cloud is a sign that God is present (cf. Exodus 13:21). When Jesus says that he will come “on a cloud”, he is identifying himself as a divine person.

Jesus has often warned his disciples that they should be ready to greet him when he comes again in glory. In Luke 12:35 he tells the parable of the servants; in Luke 17:22-29, he describes the fate of the people at the time of Noah and of Lot. Now he warns the disciples about dissipation and drunkenness, on the one hand, and concern about the anxieties of life, on the other.

All of the events described in this gospel passage suggest that the return of Jesus as the Divine Judge is imminent. Yet, two millennia have passed, and a third has begun, but “what is coming soon” has not yet arrived. In preparing for today’s meditation, I was reminded of three events that occurred in the first year of after I was ordained: In the fall, I was called one morning to the scene of a boarding house fire, where a man in his 80s had escaped, but went back up to his room on the fourth floor because he had forgotten his eye glasses. One afternoon in the spring, I was called to a home where a boy coming back from school had gone to wake his dad, who worked second shift, but the man was no longer living. One night the following spring, I was called to the Regional Medical Center, where a young parishioner had given birth to a son whose heart was not beating properly. I baptized him that night, and celebrated his entry into eternal glory a few days later.

Nearly 40 years later, I still can’t tell you which of these three incidents touched me most deeply. But all of them echo the same message: Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again. Be watchful for that day, so you will be ready to greet him when he comes.

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