Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place. See, I am coming soon!" Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Come, ring out our joy to the Lord;
hail the rock who saves us.
Let us come before him, giving thanks,
with songs let us hail the Lord. (R./)
A mighty God is the Lord,
a great king above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his.
To him belongs the sea, for he made it
and the dry land shaped by his hands. (R./)
Come in; let us bow and bend low;
let us kneel before the God who made us
for his is our God and we
the people who belong to his pasture,
the flock that is led by his hand. (R./)
Jesus said to his disciples: "Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
On this final day of the liturgical year we are told that our passing from darkness to light is certain and will come in due time. Meanwhile we must trust in God's plan for us and for the world and go on living decently and honourably. Whether in darkness or light, we are not alone but are provided with all we need. "On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations."
The boom-times ended with a crash: "The great day will suddenly close in on you like a trap." If it is true that faith thrives more during adversity than during financial prosperity, perhaps we may hope for some rebirth in our Church. But Jesus also advises that spiritual life requires commitment: "Pray constantly." Live in God's presence and then you will "stand secure before the Son of Man" when he comes in full glory.
In his vision, Saint John views the sweep of earthly existence with a horizon of final glory. Here is the silver lining, the end of the years of trial. The seer of Patmos feels himself already standing with one foot in the heavenly Jerusalem and one on planet earth. He hears Christ's promise, "I am coming soon… They will drink from the river of living water, clear as crystal, which issues from the throne of God and of the Lamb."
The church's liturgical year are ends this very day. It does so with the message that the Lord Jesus will come soon in glory. We have been gifted many ways over the past year. We will now be further graced with four weeks of special awareness during Advent, starting tomorrow. With the help of God, we will lay aside every hindrance of sin, and with eyes fixed on Jesus, persevere in his way, until we reach the place he has prepared for us.<