The Gospel this Sunday encourages and strengthens us with the conviction of Jesus’ return. It also reminds us in a very forceful way that we must be prepared. The great question is not, “When is the Lord returning?” The question we should be concerned with is, “Are we prepared to meet Jesus face to face? So how do we prepare for the Lord’s return?
Our mission is to prepare ourselves to receive Christ on his terms and in accord with his purposes. It is in our willingness to do this that his holiness is accomplished in us. Because this is one of the great truths of the spiritual life, we discover that one does not have to journey into the desert as a hermit to know the challenges of asceticism. One does not have to journey to lands hostile to the Faith and suffer martyrdom to know what it means to suffer for the sake of the Gospel. Opportunities to know and serve the Lord will find us, wherever we are, and when they do, will we rise to the occasion seek to serve the Lord?
Saint Thérèse’s who feast day is today spiritual way culminated in the manner in which she experienced suffering and death. Beset by physical discomfort, she was overtaken by an intense, spiritual darkness. She accepted these as being opportunities to know the Lord and to grow in faith, hope and love.
What spiritual lesson does the witness of St. Thérèse offer us?
Perhaps we might consider whether too much of our prayer is dedicated to pleading for exemptions from the hard facts and difficult circumstances of life. We tell the Lord what we do not want to face, what we just couldn’t accept, rather than coming to terms with the truth that God delivers and redeems us not from the reality of human existence, but through it. God will not take us anywhere that he didn’t go himself, this much we know from the revelation of Christ. St. Thérèse shows us that it is within an embrace of the reality of our existence that the Lord reveals himself and teaches us his truth.
The best way to prepare for the second coming of Christ as Paul says is to “ increase and abound in love for one another and for all” so that we “ may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (1 Thessalonians 3: 12-13). We should place God first in our lives and love our neighbour as ourselves. We should understand that our first calling is to love God and serve our neighbour. When we live our lives in this way then we are ready to face The Lord Jesus and look into his beautiful eyes and receive his love and mercy. Jesus’s return will be glorious. It is the moment for which we are being prepared. It is the moment for which we have been saved. It is the time we have been longing for.
Fr. Maroun El Kazzi