This Sunday we begin a new year, year B in the three-year liturgical cycle. During Advent the liturgy of the Church invites us to prepare for the coming of the Lord. In Christmas we remember his first coming in poverty, in Bethlehem. As we do this we wait for his second coming at the ‘end of times.’
The first reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah, and the second reading from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthian Church, both look forward in hope for this coming. For those who are awake and waiting in faith, the second coming is a joyful event. It is the moment when the reflection will shatter and we will get to see God face to face (cf. 1Co 13:12).
In the gospel Jesus encourages us to be prepared, to stay awake. If we fall asleep and forget the need to wait in hope, then we risk that the Lord comes at a time we do not expect, and we are not ready to welcome him and celebrate with him (cf. Mt 15:1-13).
We often wrap up the second coming and the end of times in fearful apocalyptic language. Our meeting with God should be one filled with hope and joy. There is no need to be afraid of the Lord’s coming.
Joseph De Piro writes about the end times in an article published in 1924 in the almanac.
1. The Faith which God gave us through our father St Paul the Apostle, is a great treasure. Heaven by far surpasses this earth; similarly, the wealth of the Faith is by far greater than the wealth of the nations because its source and goal is God himself. While we have the true Faith, we are heading toward Heaven. If the Faith is lost, so are we. The person who exchanges gold for clay is really insane; the Christian who rejects the Creed of the Catholic Church and accepts that of her enemies is much more insane.
Let us profess, always and everywhere, our faith in Jesus of Nazareth and in his Holy Church. On his part, Jesus will speak positively on our behalf to his Eternal Father.
2. Our fatherland is our treasure and we must cherish it. Nevertheless, our Heavenly fatherland is much greater and much more wonderful. It is an infinite treasure with a beginning and without end, created and made available for each one of us. Oh, my Guardian Angel, make your voice heard. Make me understand the meaning of the words: “I have been created for joy and beauty, and for heavenly repose.”
Whenever we are sad and facing the difficulties of this life, including death itself, we ought to lift our mind and heart to our heavenly Father and repeat: “Your kingdom come!”
3. Charity is a treasure that surpasses all other treasures. It is the queen of virtues, the fullness of perfection, it is God himself. And who is like God? Our first and greatest obligation is to love God our Lord first and above all else, because we owe our existence and everything to him alone. We have been created just to love him. We love God our Lord if we hate what He hates and love what He loves; if we shun sin and behave virtuously. Just as light and darkness are incompatible, charity and sin cannot inhabit a soul at the same time.
The love of God must be accompanied by the love of our neighbours. We are all brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of one Father. My second great duty is to love my neighbours: to love them as much as I love myself, this is what God wants. Those who say that they love God and, at the same time, do not love their neighbours, even his enemies, are uttering a lie.
If we are faithful to the Word of God, always and in everything, and faithful to his Holy Church, we will deserve eternal life.
4. All these wonderful treasures have a key which is available to every Christian. This key is prayer. Prayer is to a Christian what water is to a tree. We grow and become stronger in virtue and graces as long as we pray. If we do not pray, we neither progress nor live in grace.
Therefore, let us pray without giving up. In this way we will deserve all the Treasures of heaven for all eternity.