The End and the Beginning

I like how the Gospel readings for the Last Sunday of the Church year and the beginning of Advent are essentially the same.  Whether you’re looking forward to the birth of Christ or the return of Christ, the eager expectation is the same.

As Jesus leaves the disciples on the mountaintop, He tells them, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” He departs into the clouds and is not seen again.  We now find ourselves in the same sort of waiting period as the Old Testament faithful who wait for the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation.  We wait for Jesus.

Jesus celebrates the Last Supper in the context of the Passover.  When God tells the Israelites to continue celebrating the Passover He tells them they will eventually be celebrating it in the Promised Land.  God was already giving something to look forward to, a goal that was as good as accomplished because God had promised it.

When Jesus announces to His disciples, “This is my body…This is my blood,” He is doing something quite unique.  We still look forward to the return of Christ and yet Christ has never left.  He brings that return on the Last Day to us every Sunday when He appears among us. 

So we are waiting, but not truly like the Israelites of old.  We are already receiving the benefits of the End Times. Christ is with us in His Body and Blood. Communion brings the End into the present. We look to the End, but the reality is that He never left. As we celebrate Communion we participate in the End, being reunited with God and with each other.

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