Daily Reflection
November 23rd, 2004
Fr. John Schlegel, S.J.
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This day dawned with shards of autumnal colors cutting across the sky. The days are cooler, shorter and darker. The harvest is nearly done and our thoughts turn to the end of the year. To the south, the days are warmer, brighter and longer, the bougainvillea is in bloom, the planting is nearly done and our thoughts turn to the end of the year.

Today’s scripture passages hint at the end of the year as the end of time, when we will be judged and harvested by our loving creator God.

The reading from Revelations presents the evocative image of a loving God harvesting the grapes and grain from a ripe earth. The psalmist presents a God coming to judge the world with righteousness. And in Luke’s gospel Jesus cautions his followers not to be taken in by false prophets or predictions of the end of time. All suggest expectation, anticipation, and preparation for life lived with God.

Expectation is part of our life and our prayer. When rooted in faith, expectation becomes hope. And in hope our peace, our forgiveness, our stability in Christ, shadow the beginnings of eternal life here on earth. Something of eternal joy begins already amid the distress and fears of this life. Without hope we cannot anticipate our life in Christ. Without hope we see no compelling reason to prepare for life in Christ.

Scripture encourages us to look at the world around us and at our own (uniquely yours) life in God’s hands, to form for ourselves an idea of what eternal life with God means. We all have moments when we feel suddenly renewed, happy, absorbed in a great mystery. There is the security of a parent, the support of a loving relationship, the surprises of friendships, the consolation (and, yes, desolation) of prayer, liberation from a heavy burden, the transforming power of a Brahms piano concerto, or the sheer joy of a beautiful sunset, all of these are hints of what is to come in our life with God. Dare I say, in our life in heaven?

But not yet!  In a hauntingly familiar description of our own times, Jesus assures us, the end is not yet. He says: “When you hear of wars and disturbances (as we do), do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.”

But the end will come some day for each of us and for all of us. Hope is to be our companion and guide in our expectation and preparation for what is to come. My autumnal colored sky is a sign of hope as sure as the rainbow announces the end of a storm. For as each day dawns it presents new opportunities to see God as God is, moving in and around us.

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