I love that the liturgical year begins by looking forward to the second coming of Christ. The first two weeks of Advent are a time to prepare our hearts for "the day when He appeareth." We are told that he is "like the refiner's fire" and "he shall purify." Sometimes I'd like to just leave all that purifying for him on "that day"--leaving it all in an abstract future, something I'll just passively receive when I get there.
In a way, it is true that we can't prepare adequately for that day. But it is also true that we must prepare: we must practice saying "yes!" to the Returning Christ by saying "yes!" every moment as he comes to us now. "To those who are faithful in little things..." He is purifying us now so that we shall be wholly his then; he redeems our suffering now so that we shall rejoice on that day. My reaction won't be, "Darnnit! It's the day of reckoning!" Rather, if I say yes to him today, on that day I will say, "Gloria! It is the day of reckoning!"
This is all inspired by a little blurb from Elizabeth Foss's column. She wrote, remembering the unexpected and harrowing days of bedrest:
"A couple of days before Sarah Anne was born, I commented to my priest that it is much more difficult to sin when one is on bedrest. He raised his eyebrows. No, I continued, maybe it’s not the bedrest so much as it is the knowledge that at any moment I could hemorrhage and once the bleeding began, I could die. Indeed, nothing drives one to one’s knees (figuratively, in my case) like knowing a serious medical situation lurks around the corner. Nothing makes avoiding sin seem more urgent than knowing the accounting could be quite near.
The reality, of course, is that none of us knows what day is our last. None of us knows when life might change suddenly and death might loom large. But few of us pray that way. Ever."
Let's start praying that way. Always.