A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin
(The readings may be found here)
The readings for the second week of Advent expand on last Sunday’s theme of our preparation for the coming of the Lord. Now we are reminded that the Messiah comes to us not only as Lord and Saviour, but also as Judge, just as He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end all things in creation: “then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” The Almighty Word, whose wisdom and power formed and upholds the world, appears at the end of all things, as the final measure of our mortal life and story. It is a moment which in some way we all dread, both for its sense of finality, and for the burden of consequence it brings to bear on our actions: in the end, our life does come to hang in the scales of eternal justice, and even from within the perspective of our redeeming faith in Jesus to save us, we feel a natural anxiety at the prospect of being weighed for our weak, and often wicked, efforts. How can the end bring us any consolation? Where are we to find any hope?
The answer, St. Paul tells us, is in the Bible: “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning; that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” The Biblical story is the account of God’s mercy towards us, and in terms of that mercy, we find our promise of divine consolation, both in this life, and at this life’s end: “Jesus Christ [came] to confirm the promises made unto the fathers; and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” Certainly, that story must contain and express the absolute and uncompromising justice of God’s perfect nature. And so too, it must be that in the course of that justice, no Godless end or design shall find any place or permission.
But the perfect justice of God, as defined by His love, also always upholds and accomplishes every possible way for His goodness to prevail in all things. That is the sense of the sending of the Messiah; if it be possible for God to work out our redemption, then it is part of His perfect will and way to bring that redemption to its fulfillment. The Lord comes. In His appearing is both judgment, and our escape from judgment’s cost, as we come to trust in His love for us and turn to Him in hope. The more we learn this—the more, in other words, we come to see the joys revealed in the Scriptures—the more we come to trust ourselves to His appearing, both at the end, and here and now. We come to ‘look up’ for His coming, day by day, with hope and thanksgiving, because we have learned that in Him, “our redemption draweth nigh.”