1st Sunday of Advent 27.11.16 Long vision
When it comes to prophecy (as in predictions) there is a tendency to see one’s own generation as the central point of the prophecy.
Prophecies always seem to imply that certain critical events are just around the corner, but in fact they may be referring to events still a long way off.
Every generation must have felt the same way. There are enough things going wrong in all ages to make it look like it could be the end of the world. So far it has not been, and may not be for us either.
But it is probably good for us, all the same, to stay on our toes, to be fully engaged and alert on these matters. The master might return in the second watch, or the third (Lk12,38).
This is why God does not give us too much information about when things will happen.
We have to leave it to Him to know His own plans. He knows what He is doing, and what He wants done.
It is our role to agree with Him!
We are ready for either of two possibilities: Our world could change drastically at a moment’s notice (eg World War III). Or we might just go on for centuries.
We can take it either way, much as we do in our own lives, where we could die today, or live on for years to come. We can live with a high level of not-knowing what is going to happen.
We can, however, ask the Lord to come. He wants us to ask that, and He can answer that prayer in more than one way.
He can come in ways other than His final glorious return. He can make His presence felt as His kingdom is established among us; as He brings people to a deeper faith in Him, and a clearer recognition of Him, especially in the Eucharist.
In this way people would come to believe in Him, to worship and obey Him; as He is given a greater prominence in what is (after all) His own world!
In that sense He can come, and the more the better, for our purposes. Every generation has the right to make this prayer.
We pray, and we act in obedience to Our Lord, and if we do that consistently enough we will enable His kingdom to be recognisable.
We ask for anything He can send us – be it a miracle, daily sources of grace; a conversion of a sinner; anything that can make it easier for us to progress in holiness, and to convince others to do the same.
Our Lord will sustain us in hope as we battle through various difficulties.
No matter what happens, or does not happen, we will believe that God is still at work.
We may not see the spectacular improvements we would like, but we can sense His presence. It is like a tree growing. We cannot see it happen, but we see that it does happen over time.
God has many ways of advancing His cause. He can even use the rebellion or rejection of some, to draw forth value in the response of others - for example, in martyrdom. The glory of martyrs is made possible by the evil of those who kill them.
God makes good come out of evil.
Likewise we can use anything that comes our way - this suffering becomes a prayer; this disappointment becomes an opportunity for God's grace to go to work. We turn everything to advantage.
In this way, with short steps, and long vision, we are ready in every sense for Our Lord to come among us.