CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 September 2018

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An end brings a new beginning

Your eyes are going to look on a king in his beauty:
they will see an immense country
(Isaiah 33:17)
 
 
We are approaching the end of one year and the beginning of another. Time after time, warnings abound, but none more urgent than those that are being announced this season.
 
The dreariness of the world and the seasons of growth and optimism are worn. Life is well on its way and the soul is cast forward, in due proportion, as it apprehends that the night is far spent and the day is at hand (Romans 13:12) when we will see a new heaven and a new earth (Revelations 21:1).
 
This is where we are at as we bring our prayer each day before him. Against the doldrums of sky and world, the words of the prophet, Isaiah, return to us as does the epistle that bids us to awake from our slumber (Romans 13:11), for it is he who comes in the name of the Lord (Psalm 118:26).
 
The destiny of others is unknown to us, but that which lies before all of us is the day we have sight of our maker and God, whom we will see face to face, as we are destined to come before him in judgement.
 
Given the prospect, we might ask in earnest then, “Is this what life is about?”
 
We are in a world of sense and we must realise we are in the dark now, but all will be light, such that God is now hidden and he will be revealed. Therefore, it is obvious to see that there has to be some form of preparation for this change.
 
It is weak and insufficient to merely say that we must strive to obey him. It might have been enough were rewards and punishments to correspond in the way of nature as they do here on earth.
 
It is not the same as being subjected to a court of law. We need to be realistic that we will actually appear before God, in his presence, so we must think of how to prepare ourselves in a manner that involves a deep overhaul of thought and affection, of both mind and heart.
 
Whether or not this is sound reasoning, scripture stresses its necessity by telling us that the gospel covenant has, amongst other purposes, to prepare us for this destiny, the vision of God.
 
Many have asked why we need to profess our religion. Why do we go to Church, observe the rites and ceremonies; watch, pray and fast? Isn’t it enough to be just, honest, benevolent and virtuous?
 
There is no better reply except to say firstly, that it is God who tells us to do so and secondly, because we are not on earth forever, as we will change our state of being.
 
Sacramental communion may be in some way a preparation for a sight of him. Perhaps a third response to those questions would be to ask what it would be to meet Christ without any preparation.
 
When we face a difficult task, we prepare ourselves by making up our minds. Courage is necessary and it is gained by a thorough preparedness in thought. We come to Church, therefore, to pray and plead for help for preparedness.
 
We come to Church because we are heirs of heaven. One day, we will come to inherit it so that, in the here and now, by psalms and song, by confession and by praise, we learn to do our part.
 
The one who to us is judge prepares us to be judged; and he who is to glorify us, prepares us to be glorified that he may not take us without giving us any warning.
 
When the voice of the archangel sounds, the name known only to the one who receives it (Revelation 2:17), we will meet the bridegroom, and must be ready.
 
Therefore, we are reassured that if we act accordingly in preparation, we will, through God’s grace, be gradually imbued with his Spirit.
 
In time, in our manner of acting and talking, in our service and conduct, manifest spontaneously and naturally, that even though we fear him, we love him.
 
Until Christ came, it was a time of shadows and when he came, he brought truth, because he is truth.
 
It is necessary that we are to be true and sincere so that we may then be gifted to see no longer through a dark glass, but marvel at great wonders with a sight beyond our ability.
The end of the old ushers in a new beginning.
 
 
 
• Caroline Hu