“Fear God, and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come” (Apoc. 14.7)
By Br Vincent Antony Löning, O.P. | The fourth of our series of meditations on the Gospel. In a world ravaged by illness, and as the liturgical year draws to a close, Br. Vincent Antony reflects on the end of all time.
Readings at Mass: Philemon 7-20; Psalm 145(146):7-10; Luke 17:20-25
We should fear God indeed—this is, after all, the beginning of Wisdom—but as Christians we should not therefore be afraid of the hour of his judgment. This hour is indeed coming, in fact it has already started. It started when Christ died for us on the Cross. God could not be closer to his creation. After all, he sustains in being every bit of it, every single moment of time. He could not be closer to our human family, of which one of the Trinity has become a member. This really is God’s Kingdom, and the devil is only at work here on borrowed time.
We should not, then, fear his coming in glory, either, but only fear the one who is coming in glory. And we must fear him, and start doing his work, here and now. That is why Jesus tells us in this Gospel not to worry about the precise timing of this coming. We should not be anxious about this, like the Pharisees, or seek a sign, like Jesus’s evil generation. The signs of God’s kingdom are already before our eyes! If we can be tempted to be anxious about the end of the world, it’s probably because we—rightly—want to be ready when it comes. But we cannot make ourselves, let alone the rest of the world, fully ready for God’s coming. Only God himself can do that. Arguably, if he didn’t need to do it, he wouldn’t need to come back either! So we won’t have finished God’s work by the time he comes for us, but we can, and should, already let him start to begin his work in us. Let the devil work in borrowed time—we Christians are working in the beginning of eternity. It is the same kingdom which we work in, which is amongst us, and which we pray for every day: “Thy kingdom come.”
Since Christ’s death, we have already had several glimpses of this kingdom. On Easter Day, of course, when he rose again, when Our Lady was assumed into Heaven, when S. Stephen saw the glory of God and Jesus at his right hand before being stoned. We Dominicans wear a white habit—in honour of our baptism, it’s sometimes said, or of Jesus’s resurrection. But at the moment, we wear our black cappas in choir, so it feels a little as if Jesus is still lying in the tomb. And so we wait, as if we were waiting in the tomb, ready as we can be, ready as God is willing to make us, for him who will come like lightning, and light up not just the sky, but the whole world.