This is a transitional time in the Church year, these last few weeks of the liturgical calendar.
It’s as though everything there is to say has already been said and soon the final seal will be placed on the Feast of Christ the King. And the Sunday after that we will begin again the powerful, reflective, grace filled season of Advent.
The readings this weekend seem to already reflect something of the Advent season. There is a sense of heightened expectation, a feeling that something wonderful, something godly is gathering force, is about to happen. As that goes on, a deepening sense of what it means to be a people of Hope, a people keenly aware that what we experience now, what it feels like to simply be human, is far from all there is.
The Father’s design for the lives of his people is far from complete. There is a very great deal more yet to come in the life of each one of us. But that great deal more will not be of our own making. It is, after all, the Father’s design, and it will be brought to completion on his terms, in his time. So, to the notion of hope is added that of waiting. In Christ’s own words in this Gospel reading, the day and the hour when all of this is to take place is not ours to know. Enough to know that it will, and for that, to wait in Hope.
That final fullness of the Father’s design is a theme which fires our imaginations as much as it did that of the scriptural authors. The Day of the Lord, the end times, the end of the world. It is described in scripture in any number of different places, using a wealth of imagery. Sometimes the images are of great power, irresistible, even destructive power, such as those in the Gospel. Sometimes the images are military, such as the First Reading, the return of the Lord pictured as the entrance of a victorious general into a conquered city. Sometimes the images are agricultural, such as the parables in Matthew, picturing the final gathering in the barn of the final harvest.
In St Paul, the image is one of new birth, a new humankind right now growing within us, struggling to be born. In St John the imagery is more often one of the new Jerusalem, a new and perfect society, human beings in perfect relationship to one another and to God. So, a wealth of images, all of them true, none of them true enough.
So, for now, a few more days of quiet, of looking back at the year of salvation just passed. But for God’s people, that quiet is never a matter of simply ending something. It is always in preparation for something new and powerful about to begin.
For God’s people, there is always more to come.