The Little Apocalypse

Monday, December 12, 2011 — — Week of 3 Advent , Year Two

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 939)

Psalms 41, 52 (morning) // 44 (evening)

Zechariah 1:7-17

Revelation 3:7-13

Matthew 24:15-31

Throughout Matthew’s “Little Apocalypse” (ch. 24-25) there seems to be an attitude of resignation, underlined by profound hope.

Wars, famine and persecution are par for the course. Deception, sacrilege and falsehood abounds. Life is full of suffering. Indeed, the entire environment of the planet is threatened.

But underneath all of that, there seems to be no fear, no panic. Only a sense of readiness and anticipation over the renewed presence and coming of Christ. Take heart. Raise your spirits. God is in charge of history, and Christ will come, bringing justice.

The entire discourse will conclude with a great judgment scene in our Saturday reading, the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. We are given a mission in the time before the end. We are to focus our attention upon “the least of these.” We are to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoner.

All hell may be breaking loose around us. Yes, the foundations may shake. But the Little Apocalypse sermon invites us not to obsess, panic or be worried. Trust and hope that Christ is coming to reconcile all, to bring justice and true peace. In the meantime, take care of “the least of these,” for that is standard of his coming judgment.

There is something liberating for me about this invitation. I tend to obsess and worry about current events. I follow the news and create and inner dialogue of rant. Sometimes that rant emerges into speech. Even into newspaper columns. I am angry and frustrated at those who seem to be threatening the things I love. I am anxious and worried about the desecrations of opportunity, equality and environment that make this era seem apocalyptic. It is easy to become cynical or even despairing.

There is something about the flavor of Matthew 24-25 that is like a friend looking upon us — erect, bright-eyed, and smiling broadly — and saying, “Well, what did you expect?” A confident, joyous laugh fills the universe. “Raise your expectations. Christ is always just around the corner.”

And from the altitude of a more divine perspective, I can let go of my anxiety; I can embrace a hopeful faith, and be renewed, especially for whatever work I can do that is responsive to the needs of “the least of these.”

If I return my attention to the swirl of politics, news and economics, I can attend to it more centered, seeing it all primarily through the interpretative lens of the call to care for “the least of these,” grounded in a confidence that God’s arc of justice is bending mightily and hopefully.

My Advent yearning grows. Come, Lord Jesus.

Past Posts