This weekend we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. (Advent?! Where did the year go?! Didn’t we just celebrate the 4th of July about three weeks ago?!!)
In the gospel reading at Mass, Jesus discusses His Second Coming and the end of the age. He emphasizes that no one knows when this will occur: “You must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Besides being ready for the end-of-the-world “Judgment Day” when Jesus’ Second Coming occurs, we each need to be ready for our own individual end-of-the-world event. Just look at the daily obituaries in the newspaper. Besides the usual 98-year-old nursing home resident, there often is listed a 26-year-old car accident or a 51-year-old heart attack. We never know when our time on earth will be over.
So it’s very important for each of us to be prepared to meet our Maker, even though the actual Second Coming of Christ most likely will not occur during our lifetime. (But on the other hand, who knows? Maybe it will occur next Tuesday.)
A primary focus this week is on the swift judgment aspect of the end of the age. Jesus compares it to the great flood of Noah’s day. He said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man….They knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.”
In the days of Noah, the world was an incredibly sinful place. God sent the flood as judgment for their wickedness. However, God gave them plenty of time to repent and turn from their evil ways.
Jesus said the very same thing applies to our age. Our world is an incredibly sinful place. We, too, have been given plenty of time to repent and turn from our evil ways. But judgment is coming. We can be sure of that.
Jesus described it: “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.”
God’s judgment will be swift. It will take everyone by surprise. That’s why Jesus warned so often to be on watch and be ready.
This week’s gospel reading highlights a concept that our present world frankly does not want to hear: JUDGMENT. Oooh, how politically incorrect can you get? Judgment? That’s not allowed these days.
We live in the age of moral relativism. There is no such thing as absolute truth anymore. Everyone now is allowed to define for him or herself what’s right and what’s wrong.
As a result, the only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth. The only idea which is definitely wrong is the idea that something can be definitely wrong. The only opinion which is strictly forbidden is the opinion that certain things are strictly forbidden. And the only behavior which deserves swift judgment is to say that people will be swiftly judged.
This view may make people feel enlightened and comfortable and oh so tolerant, but it is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught.
People can go through life defining their own version of right and wrong, and insisting there never will be any judgment. But that’s no different than the captain of the Titanic insisting the ship is unsinkable, even as the massive vessel slips below the icy sea. And repeating it over and over to yourself does not transform fantasy into reality.
Jesus is loving and merciful, but He also is the Cosmic Judge. We must, as Jesus said, “Be prepared.” We do this by embracing Him in faith, asking for forgiveness, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. If we do this, we will have nothing to fear when Judgment Day finally arrives. (OK, well maybe we’ll be a little bit scared.)