Wednesday 29 November 2023

Thy Kingdom Come

At this time of year, the Church attempts to cheer us up in the face of the cold weather and long nights by reading the sections of the Gospel that speak of Christ’s second coming at the end of the world. We might struggle to find comfort in these words as we hear of the trials and tribulations that his followers will undergo in those last days. And yet from the earliest days, Christians have looked forward to Christ’s return with joyful hope.

While we do not know when Our Lord will come again — ‘Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.’ (Mt. 24:36) — it isn’t meant to be a complete surprise to us. We have been waiting for that day and hour for a very long time.

The end of the world isn’t the one off event that we often think it is. Since God became man and entered this world, the boundaries between heaven and earth have got a bit blurred. Bits of heaven keep poking through. We see that in the lives of the saints, when they do extraordinary things and work wonderful miracles. But we see it in our own lives too. Christ is already present in the Church, in the sacraments, in the lives of individual Christians. So the second coming — what we think of as the ‘real’ end of the world — is just about revealing to other people what we already know to be true.

The Christian life helps bring that day closer. Each day, we pray: ‘Thy kingdom come’. Not only that prayer, but every prayer, every encounter with Christ in the sacraments, every one of our good works drags this world one step closer to heaven.

We have nothing to fear when Christ comes again. Or at least we shouldn’t, because we live with him here and now. This will not be an encounter with a stranger. We should know what to expect. It will be a reunion, rather than an introduction. We should long for his second coming, if we are truly living with him now.