Sunday, November 24, 2013

The return of the King: the elements will be dissolved with fire, the earth will be burned up

This time of year, in anticipation of Advent, our lectionary readings focus on different ways in which the Lord comes to us, especially in the Second Coming. While many celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King today, in keeping with the post-Conciliar calendar (in the 1962 calendar, this is celebrated -- with a rather different meaning -- at the end of October), those at Masses following the 1962 calendar celebrated the last Sunday after Pentecost.

In both Masses, the readings have a similar focus. The Solemnity of Christ the King, as Fr. Z says, "brings to our attention the fact that the Lord is coming precisely as King and Judge not merely as friend or brother or favorite role-model." He continues:
Consider today’s feast in light of what we read in 2 Peter 3: 10-12:
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire!”
Not exactly hugs and fluffy lambs for everyone.

Christ Jesus will judge us all, dear friends, and submit all things to the Father (cf. 1 Cor 15:28). Having excluded some from His presence, our King, Christ Jesus, will reign in majestic glory with the many who accepted His gifts and thereby merited eternal bliss.
The Gospel reading for the last Sunday after Pentecost in the 1962 calendar is Matthew 24:15-35, which hammers home a similar point:
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: When you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place; (he that readeth, let him understand:) then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains; and he that is on the house-top, let him not come down to take anything out of his house; and he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat. And woe to them that are with child and that give suck, in those days. But pray that your flight be not in the winter, or on the Sabbath: for there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been found from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be: and unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved; but for the sake of the elect, those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say to you: Lo, here is Christ, or there; do not believe him; for there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you beforehand. If therefore they shall say to you: Behold His is in the desert, go ye not out; Behold He is in the closets, believe it not. For as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even in the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together. And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be moved; and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty. And He shall send His angels with a trumpet and a loud voice, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens to the utmost bounds of them. And from the fig tree learn a parable: when the branch thereof is now tender, and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh at the doors. Amen I say to you that this generation shall not pass till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.
For a YouTube homily by Fr. Perrone on the readings of the day (which also include Colossians 1: 9-14), have a look at Diane Korzeniewski's post, "Video Homily: Fr. Perrone on the Last Four Things, Dies Irae (Last Sunday after Pentecost, 1962 Missal)" (Te Deum Laudamus, November 24, 2013):

[Hat tip to D.M.K.]

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