Years ago you would see them everywhere: on street corners, at the beach, even at sporting events – usually men in flat caps and long grey overcoats carrying placards announcing: The end is near! Most people gave them a wide berth and casually ignored their messages of doom. In some ways, and to be closer to Our Lord’s teachings about the end times, they might paint new signs announcing: The beginning is here!
Sitting in the Temple, teaching the crowds, Our Lord said: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees; as soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place”. Our Lord wanted his listeners to understand that they were witnessing the beginning of the messianic reign. With Our Lord’s entry into the world, the End Times had already begun.
It’s a challenge to accept the seeming paradox that for the past two thousand years we have been living in the initial stages of Our Lord’s reign. The fullness of his Kingdom has yet to come, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t begun. We know that in his Resurrection Our Lord opened heaven for us; and that means that the entire created order has been altered. Heaven is brought to earth, and we earthly beings can be raised up to heaven. We are now living in the age of the Church. As God’s redeemed people, we can declare our victory over sin and death, even as we “wait in joyful hope” for our final deliverance.
Through Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit has been poured out to prepare us for his return. And so we should confidently participate in this era of grace in our prayer, in our commitment to service and evangelism, and through the Sacraments, those special signs that tell us that God’s kingdom is here, though not yet in its fullness. In these ways, our actions and our lives will always speak louder than those ominous placards.