As Advent begins, we will be hearing apocalyptic scripture describing the end of the world in fearful terms. Earthquakes, fire, floods, wars and insurrection. Families turning on one another. Parents handing their children over to authorities. People begging for the mountains to cover them over and cursing their very birth when contemplating the things yet to come. When I was in St. Ferdinand’s grade school, after weekly mass, we would all pray the Dies Irae. (Day of Wrath) I still remember the opening stanza
Day of wrath and doom impending,
David’s word with Sibyl’s blending,
Heaven and earth in ashes ending.
O what fear man’s bosom rendeth,
When from heaven the Judge descendeth,
On whose sentence all dependeth.
No wonder we were afraid of the end of the world! And to this day, that is how it is widely imagined among many Christians. Something horrible! I do not think that is true at all. I believe that God loves His world. He would never rejoice in its destruction. So how will the end be? Maybe like this: We have all seen tearful reunions when a soldier returns home from a long journey away, wives and children embracing with tear-filled laughter. That’s what the end is like. A pregnant woman, great with child, tired from nine long months, resulting finally in the relief and joy of birth. That’s what the end is like. Losing a friendship due to a bitter dispute that somehow, later on, finds both people reconciling with each other and rejoicing. Being forgiven, despite the sin. Being accepted, despite the weakness. Being embraced and kissed by one whose love we so desire.
Who wouldn’t want such an end? Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.