Rv 14:14-19; Ps 96:10-13; Lk 21:5-11
The end of the world prevents the triumph of chaos. We need to have the LORD come and judge the earth. If there is no end in sight we can easily despair, or we can endlessly avoid growth in virtue and true repentance from sin. When the true King of Kings comes, the whole world will recognize the maker of heaven and earth. Then will the reign of justice and peace begin; then will the people be governed with equity. Then will the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice. The sea and what fills it will resound and all the plains will be joyful and all that is in them. Even the trees of the forest will exult because the LORD comes to rule the earth. This will be the first time in the history of humanity when the world will be ruled with complete justice, and the peoples will be governed by gentle constancy. Indeed, we look forward to the End of Things as we know them. We are not afraid to face the inevitable and to ponder the glory of his coming. Saint John, the Beloved Disciple, caught a glimpse of the beginning of the end. He proclaimed that the end would not come until the harvest is fully ripe. For this day the Lord Jesus commanded us to pray the Lord of the Harvest would send out workers to harvest souls. In today’s gospel we learn to pray for wisdom to respond to alarmists and fear mongers who try to snatch away our peace. Indeed, at every Holy Mass we learn to wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Son of Man is the One for whom we pray; in obedience we pray daily that the Lord of the Harvest would send workers into his fields and vineyards. He it is who will harvest the wheat. This Son of Man is sitting upon the cloud and he is obedient to the voice of God through the cry of the angel. This style of communication seems so distant and too formal for the Father and the Son, however it is more for the sake of Saint John than out of necessity. Saint John beholds the drama of the day when the harvest begins. This glorious day is yet ahead; this final day is in the future. We know not the day nor the hour, but we pray several times a day for the Kingdom to come. The Son of Man will swing his sharp sickle and we will be gathered in the faithful harvest, thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold. Then another angel comes from the altar and shouts to the angel with a sharp sickle to cut the clusters from the earth’s vines. The Son of Man and his angels are out in the field and the vineyard. These grapes are thrown into the great wine press of God’s fury, or as the translators used to say God’s wrath. Indeed, few understand wrath as a gift, and for most people wrath has too many negative connotations. However, without the judgment of God, without his wrath, there would be no justice. His wrath purifies the souls of the saints on the way to heaven, and it clarifies centuries of injustice upon the face of the earth. This wine press is nothing less than the sufferings by which we make up in our own bodies for that which is lacking in the Body of Christ.
Many in the culture of death can see the externals of religion and admire the beauty and blessing of Christian art and culture, however, they are too often blind to the power of the One who comes to fill the temple with his blazing glory, his purifying fire. Religion, tame and acceptable religion, still has a place in today’s society. However, the day is coming when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down. The day is coming when the Lord of Glory will come to put an end to the lies and the tyranny. The day is coming when right is might, and might is no longer right. Until that day there will be many who are deceived about the LORD and his coming. We are to avoid such fear mongers. Much suffering, political and natural will be inflicted upon the human family, but we are not to be terrified. Such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end of all things as we know them. Indeed, we wait in joy for the second coming of the Lord Jesus. Only the humble and truly poor have no fear of things ending because they have nothing to loose. We are those who wait with open hands, not clenched fists in knots of fear and anger.