The Day of the Lord is coming
Some Christians throughout the millennia expected that day to come in their own lifetimes, but they died without seeing it.
They experienced the Day of the Lord as individuals and when the great Day of the Lord comes for the entire world, St. Paul says we will be caught up with them in the clouds.
The reality of this prolonged period of expectation is depicted quite pointedly at the end of today’s Gospel.
Imagine that a dear friend you haven’t seen for a long time says that she or he will be coming on a particular day.
You wait eagerly for your friend, but your friend doesn’t come. You wait all day, but your friend fails to show. It gets dark and the stars come out (the first watch of the night), but still nothing. Between nine and midnight (the second watch), everyone else goes to bed, and still no word. Finally, somewhere in the hours right after midnight (the third watch), you give up and drift off to sleep.
Your dearest friend comes... and is welcomed with resentful, lethargic anger.
Your friend goes out of your life… forever.
Sometimes the most difficult times for Christians are not the intense times: the times of persecution and martyrdom, the battles of the daylight hours. Sometimes the most difficult times for Christians are the dark and empty hours, days, and years that stretch on and on without any hint of the Lord’s presence. It is during those times that we may feel most tempted to despair and to fall away.
It is the Lord himself who gives us the grace of perseverance, perseverance in the face of pain or perseverance in the face of emptiness. We must remember to ask for that grace and to rely upon it (rather than upon our own human strength).
It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the wisdom to keep alert for the Lord and who gives us the strength to endure even the darkest emptiness.
Then, when at last the Lord Jesus comes to us, how much more radiant will be that sight, how much sweeter will be that embrace, how much readier we will be to be filled completely by his light and love in his Kingdom of eternal day.
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!