Brief-Moment Delay

St. Paul tells us: “After just a brief moment, he who is to come shall come. He shall not delay.”

pantocratorWho shall come?

When did He walk the earth? How long ago?

After just a brief moment. He shall not delay.

What kind of person considers two thousand years to be a brief moment? Not a New Yorker, to be sure.

What kind of person considers two millennia to be anything less than a “delay?” –Not a delay? Air-traffic control would certainly call it more of a cancellation.

St. Paul says: “Do not throw away your confidence.”

Where is the Lord? Invisible now, yes. He appears to tolerate things like the deflation of footballs, and blizzards that arrive at the wrong location, and other outrages on the face of the earth.

But does he not make the sun rise? Does He not keep the canopy of the sky over our heads? Okay, so He permits a Superbowl involving two of the most odious teams in the history of the sport.

But we have to listen to His supernatural wisdom. Seeds sprout and grow, and we know not how.

We think of 2,000 years as more than “a brief moment.” But, to the One Who laid out the heavens and the earth, a thousand years are like a day.

We know how long it takes to make Minute Rice. But we have no idea how long things like: history, and the filling up of the ranks of the Elect, and the full construction of the everlasting Kingdom of God—we have no idea how long things like that take.

The smart money is on God getting it done, the best way possible, at the best possible time. It could be today. It could be ten thousand years from now.

Our job is to believe, to hope, and to love right now.

Apostles of Sunday Mass

To the one who has, more will be given. From the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. (Mark 4:25)

These words of our Lord have troubled and perplexed people ever since He first uttered them. Doesn’t sound like Mr. Nice Jesus at all.

encounter-joy richmondPerhaps one way to understand what exactly is to be given or taken away is this: a genuinely Christian vision of life.

Some people have lived under circumstances when a genuine Christian vision of life practically grew on trees. Church stood at the center of town and the center of life. Books and entertainments referred constantly to saints and Bible heroes; everyone knew the events narrated in the Scriptures; the name of Jesus tripped reverently off everyone’s lips all the time.

Beautiful circumstances, in other words, for cultivating one’s spiritual life. Like I said, some people have lived under such circumstances. Not us.

At Holy Mass today, we hear St. Paul exhort the Hebrew Christians: “We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some.”

Obviously, we owe God our weekly act of worship. In the days of Christian culture, everyone owed God a weekly act of public worship. And we owe Him that debt now, too.

But: don’t we also have to recognize that without Sunday Mass every week, it has become practically impossible, these days, for a soul to maintain a Christian vision of life?

“Even what he has will be taken away.” Without regularity in Sunday Mass attendance, won’t whatever little Christian spiritual life a person may have—won’t it wither away and die, sooner rather than later—because the world affords no other supports for it?

On the other hand: “To the one who has, more will be given.” With the habit of regular Sunday-Mass attendance, our souls swell with wisdom, peace, and joy—a kind of wisdom, peace, and joy that has become practically unknown in the world.

So, if I might presume to put it like this: If we want to participate in the New Evangelization, we must become apostles of: Mass every week.

Hebrews 10: Invite Someone to Mass

Ghent Altarpiece Adoration of the Lamb

We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works, not absenting ourselves from the assembly, but encouraging one another. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

The assembly. The Apostle has just gotten through explaining how the ancient sacrifices, offered in the Temple according to Moses’ prescriptions, do not effect definitive peace and reconciliation with God. Rather, these sacrifices were instituted solely to foreshadow the truly pleasing sacrifice, the offering of the one, true priest of Melchizedek’s heavenly order, namely…*

The holy assembly, from which we must not absent ourselves—this assembly convenes for one reason: to participate in the one offering that consecrates.

Moses designed the ancient Temple after the pattern of the vision of heaven which God granted him to see. Our assembly, the assembly to which St. Paul refers—this assembly convenes not in Jerusalem, Israel, but rather on the threshold of that original Jerusalem—Jerusalem, Heaven.

SpockNow, some have the custom of absenting themselves from this assembly. We can’t very well blame God for that, and it would be un-Christian to judge others, so I think we have to blame ourselves.

Others absent themselves because I have not helped them to want to participate like should have. I have been overbearing when I should have been lighthearted. I have held my tongue out of fear when I should have spoken courageously out of love. I have secretly betrayed my own principles, and that betrayal has publicly shone forth in my lackluster, uninspiring behavior.

But it’s not too late! The great Judgment draws ever nearer, but we still have today. We still have today to get over ourselves and reach out with love. We still have today to trust God enough to risk everything for the sake of helping other people get to heaven.

The sacrifice around which we assemble: It will never fail. It is not just human; it is human and divine. The love with which the Son has always loved the Father and always will: that love, and nothing less, is our sacrifice. The divine love will not fail. Nothing is more solid. It holds up the very pillars of the earth.

So let’s rouse one another by confessing our sins and living out of this divine love. Only God knows what all will come of our efforts. But He has given us to know that nothing we do in the name of building up this assembly—none of it will be done in vain.

Other assemblies come and go. There will come a day when the Virginia General Assembly will cease to convene. And the U.S. Congress. The U.N. General Assembly. Even the international Star Trek Aficionados Convention will one day meet no more.

But our assembly will last forever. Nothing we do to build it up will be done in vain.

______________________________

* The Lord Jesus Christ!!!