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Heb 10:11-14, 18
We have arrived at a time of the Church year when the readings speak of the Second Coming of Christ. This is a theme, of course, that is echoed in every Mass: “We proclaim your death…until you come again; …As we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ; …As we look forward to his second coming, we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice…"
In some gospel passages, the teaching about the effects of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection is interspersed with teaching about his second coming. These are two critical moments of salvation history: in the one, the power of sin and death are overthrown at their roots; in the other, the victory is brought to its culmination and full manifestation. Both of these moments are described with apocalyptic language and imagery from Old Testament passages such as today’s first reading from Daniel. What is being conveyed here is the destruction of one kingdom and the inauguration of another. This, of course, is what Christ came to do. His kingdom is among us, thanks to his death and resurrection, made present again to us in every Mass. That kingdom, as the liturgy tells us, is “A kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace” (Preface of Christ the King).
We live now in the “in between” time, when the kingdom of Christ has been inaugurated on earth, but not yet brought to its full manifestation. The power of sin and death – revealed in evils such as abortion – has been destroyed at its roots. Yet we still struggle, in and through Christ, to bring about a Culture of Life. We must bear witness to the truth, life, holiness, grace, justice, love, and peace that characterize the kingdom. The apocalyptic language of the readings should inspire in us both the awareness of how awesome a struggle this is, and the confidence in the final victory – a victory marked by the triumph of life. “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake” (First reading). Life has the last word. “Now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool” (Second reading) – and the last enemy to be destroyed will be death itself.
Mercy also has the last word, as the second reading likewise conveys – mercy that reaches even to those who have taken life by abortion and similar sins.