23 Nov 2016
This time of year our readings begin to get us ready for Advent. Advent isn’t only a time of waiting for Christmas to come, it’s also a time to focus on the reality that we are now, today, still waiting for the Second Coming of Christ. Our readings help us to “stay awake,” spiritually speaking.
The Book of Revelation tends to do that by jarring us with the imagery it gives us. And even Jesus, in his talk about the hardships that come with being his disciples, can unsettle us. But this spiritually jarring and unsettling tone to Scripture has to be balanced with the optimism it also contains.
As St. John writes about God’s fury, he says, “All the nations will come and worship before you,” God. Which is to say that, even while God is “cleaning house” in his judgment, the hope is that not a single person will be lost: that all people, all nations will be saved and come to heaven. God is not bent on destruction; he’s bent entirely toward salvation. There’s the optimism.
And Jesus ends his speech to the crowd with a spirit of hope: “You will be hated . . . but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.” As our Scripture readings steer us toward the spirit of Advent, toward the spirit of anticipation and waiting for “the end,” we are led in a spirit of optimism and hope.
When death comes, when Christ comes again to take us to himself—whenever that is, however it is—we’re meant to face it with hope, with optimism—because God’s plan for us is always geared toward salvation. Even in death, God is pulling us toward life. After all, our God is a God of life. His fury, his passion is for life. Therein lies our hope. Our God is a God of life.