We are nearing the end of the Liturgical Year and preparing to enter into Advent which marks the next year. In a few weeks, we will reach the great feast of Christ the King. The symbolism of the cycle is that everything begins and ends with Christ. Christ becomes one of us to heal us, with our humanity having been wounded by sin. At the dawn of creation, we were made for friendship with God, contained within the image of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Through original sin that friendship was wounded as our gaze moved away from God and collapsed inward towards ourselves. As such, humanity was cast out of the garden and forced to wander in the desert – the world that St. Augustine called “the land of dissimilitude” – where we are unlike and apart from God. Through the course of the events that we call “salvation history” God continued to intervene in the human experience. Finally, God sends his Son Jesus, to come in the flesh to “lead us back to the house of the father.” Jesus is the one whom we follow and the one by whom we will be judged. The readings at the end of the Liturgical Year take an urgent and Apocalyptic tone. (Apocalypse means “to unveil,” as in the hidden things of heaven are revealed to us.) This is no accident because each of us will one day come to the end of our lives and be invited (or forced) to stand before the judgement seat of God. This is often an uncomfortable thing to contemplate. For some people, the question becomes, “How could a loving God want to judge us?” It would seem in this logic that the idea of being judged against an objective standard is unfair. Beyond that question, the reality remains that we each judge ourselves and want to find a way to live at peace with who we are or who we are becoming. It is a question of where we want the light of God’s grace to shine. If we are living noble lives and are striving for ever-greater virtue (despite our current imperfections) then we will welcome God’s merciful gaze. If we are actively running away from God then his gaze with feel harsh and severe. We often view God (and the world around us) through the lens of how we view ourselves. As we come to the end of the liturgical year, we also contemplate the end of our lives on earth and ask the questions: Who am I at this moment? What do I see when I look at myself? What will I see when I encounter the gaze of Christ, face to face, at the end of my earthly life?
Yours in Christ,
(Our Lady of the Presentation Parish)