“Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.”
The Psalmist, as he often does, helps us to express what’s in our hearts in these closing days of the Church year. All of our spiritual journeying through the year has been, or at least it should have been, with the goal of seeing God’s face one day in eternity. That, says the Psalmist, is the reward of blessing for which the sinless, clean-hearted one waits.
John’s Revelation in the first reading is the vision that continues to promise this great reward. Here John gets a peek at the heavenly glory, that glory at which the hundred and forty-four thousand stand in awe. Not that God limits reward to a mere hundred and forty-four thousand souls, but it’s supposed to represent a huge number, and the number is symbolic. Twelve was a number that represented the whole known world: twelve being all of the tribes of Israel, if you recall. So it’s the number of tribes in the world, times twelve, times a thousand! A huge number that almost no one can count.
As the spiritual song goes, we sure want to be in that number. And so as the year comes to a close, we must take stock of how close we are to seeing God’s face. If our longing for heavenly reward has not been our number one priority this year, then it’s time to get serious in the year ahead. There are any number of earthly rewards that are nice to have. But they will all pass away. Only heavenly glory will give us eternal happiness, and we need to strive with all our heart and soul to get it.
The coming of Advent next week gives us the opportunity to repent of our sins, to work on our prayer and spiritual lives, to reach out to the needy, to do everything we can to seek God’s face, that is, to strengthen our relationship with him. We need to be longing to put habits in place that will lead us to God’s grace. We need to be longing to create a spirit in ourselves that leads us to peace with others. We need to be longing to see God’s face. Because no other reward is as wonderful as that!