Luke 21:22-28 + 34-36
My brothers and sisters, are we ready? Are we ready for the end of all things? Are we ready to let go of all we hold dear? Are we ready to see the sun darkened, the stars to fall, the very powers of the heavens to be shaken? Are we ready for the world as we know it to have one last convulsion and to shrivel up like a dried leaf and to be no more? Did we really mean what we have just proclaimed: “The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ?”
Yes, it is Gospel that all things will come to an end. Yes, it is Gospel that the City of the Holy Temple will become a desert; that Jerusalem – not just the place known by that geographical name, but the Jerusalems that we know, the places where we have touched God and God has touched us – that those Jerusalems will be abandoned and lie desolate. This is indeed the Gospel of the Lord. ‘Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!”
How can we truly mean that? How can we say ‘yes’ to something so utterly devastating? How can we say ‘yes’ to loved ones wrenched away from us? How can we say ‘yes’ to the sorrow we have known this past year?
What does this same Gospel say? “When these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near…. Pray for strength… to stand before the Son of Man.”
HOPE is the last word of the Gospel – even the Gospel of the destruction of all things. But it is a hope utterly purified of all dross. As the poet says: “I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope For hope would be hope for the wrong thing…. So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing…. Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony of death and birth.”
It is a Hope that looks to one thing: not to our strength, not to our power, not to our thought, not to our cleverness — but to the radiant Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. It looks to the Savior to be born in utter poverty in a cattle shed. It looks to the meek and gentle one riding on a donkey. It looks to the man we call Jesus, Savior, nailed to a cross, stripped of everything.
Poor, meek, stripped naked. That is our hope. In the evocative words of Blessed Guerric we will hear shortly, that is the “suspended expectation” to which we are called. Hanging between heaven and earth.
“Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ. There it is we are; there it is we wait for you.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!