Dear brothers and sisters,
“Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.”
Today begins a new liturgical year. Our readings for today’s Mass continues with the themes from the end of the last liturgical year: the end of the universe and human existence as we know it as our Lord continues to reveal the fullness of His glory until His second coming.
As King of the universe, our Lord Jesus Christ continues to lead all of His creation to the heavenly throne of His Father in heaven. This He is accomplishing already now and will complete at His second coming.
The Father’s only plan for us His children is to be gathered around Him and He will do this by transforming our fallen human natures into His own divine nature for to see Him as He really is and be gathered around Him in heaven, we will need to be divine like Him.
This transformation of our nature does not happen without our consent. We can refuse Him and remain in our fallen state, separated from Him forever and to be isolated and not be in love and be loved forever.
The Father does not want this for us. He has proven this for us in the suffering, death and resurrection of His only begotten Son, through whom and for whom we were created.
The Father gladly suffers our rejection of Him in His Son. We saw this in the gospel reading of last Sunday when our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the universe, endured the sneering, jeering and reviling of His obstinate creatures to the point of death.
Only the repentant thief was awake to this reality. He was awake to the fact that we no longer fear God. He was awake to the fact that we are all paying for the crimes we have and are committing when we betray our King, who has not committed any crime whatsoever against us.
The repentant thief was awake to the fact that Jesus was a King and His kingdom was only accessible through the mercy of the One hanging on the cross with Him and so he could only cry out and appeal to His mercy, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Of the two hanging on either side of Jesus, one was taken to Paradise, the other left behind. They are the fulfillment of Our Lord’s prophecy that we hear in today’s gospel: “So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. (Matthew 24:39-41)
Our Lord comes to us now in our daily toils but most powerfully in our times of suffering and death. Like the repentant thief, let us stay awake to His presence in our sweat and pain for this is how He is divinizing us. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” – Fr. Simi.