My first reading of the passages brought a myriad of thoughts to mind: End times, final judgment, God’s rule on earth, the “sharp sickle” throwing the harvest into “the great wine press of God.” Certainly not the more comforting scriptural readings like the Beatitudes or images of Christ as the comforting Shepherd. For myself, this is not a topic I dwell on when I seek inspiration from scripture.
I recently spent two weeks in France and I thought back to my experiences and how that actually helped shed some light on these daunting topics. My wife and I made a point that we’d not only visit the great cathedrals such as Chartres and Notre Dame, but also smaller cathedrals and churches in the various towns and villages we toured. Even before reflecting on today’s readings, my mind did wander while visiting these century old edifices.
The first being that the Church has been on earth for centuries and it has been a pillar of support on many followers’ spiritual journeys. Even some of the most sturdy and well-built structures had their stone steps worn down from the constant traffic in and out their doors. I found it striking that so many have sought refuge in Christ and His Church. The second thought is that my time on earth is simply a temporary sojourn on the way to the beatific vision. My time here is but a blink in the timeline of eternity. With age there comes more reflection. With more reflection, I have a better understanding of my own mortality.
The readings should give use no reason for angst. A good examination on our relationship with Christ is certainly in order. Luke’s gospel, if read in context to other passages before and after, points to the importance of following Christ in everyday life. The psalm assures us of the Lord’s “just judgment.” The reading from Revelation also tells us there will be a fully ripe harvest not “thrown into the great wine press.” For me the readings point toward the inevitable destination of all sojourners, but also ensures, if we walk with the Lord, the final destination of the journey will end with unimaginable rewards.
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