With all this talk about the harvest, and deception, and the great winepress of God’s fury, the end of time can be an absolutely frightening thought. The readings today almost make it seem like at some point, God will have had quite enough of our foolishness and return to wipe out the living and the dead. But that’s not the promise.
The psalmist today makes the promise a little more clear to us:
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
Before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
The promise of which this psalmist sings is one of great joy, a joy that will envelop and lift up all creation. The occasion for this joy is that all creation has finally come to what it was destined for: the praise of God. This makes the judgment day not at all like the great destruction of God’s wrath, but more of a celebration of creation finally developing into what it was made for.
Eucharistic Prayer III says “all creation rightly gives you praise.” This is what we were all made for; this is what everything was made for; this is the meaning of life. In these waning days of the year, we are called to look forward to the new creation, and called to partner with God in re-creating the world. We start with ourselves, by becoming the people we were created to be. That may give us stuff to work on in the coming year, but we can do that work with joy because we know that God “shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with his constancy.”