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Friends, in today’s Gospel, the Lord exhorts us to vigilance as we await the day of his Second Coming: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” We have come to the end of the liturgical year and are coming to the end of the calendar year. And so our readings take on a brooding, foreboding quality. The end of all things is being brought before our minds and hearts.

Christians have been concerned about this problem from the earliest days. What prompted this interest? Probably what prompts it in any age: the painful and dark quality of the world—plagues, famines, sickness, the threat of invasion, corruption in high places.

But it was also the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This cataclysmic event convinced the early Christians that the world as they knew it was ending. And in a real sense, they were right. The Resurrection meant a cosmic realignment, a redirection.

And the Lord urges us to vigilance: “May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”