The Last Hour: Homily for 31 December 2008
Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA
Several times, St. John in his letter reminds us that we are in the “last hour”. John said: “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming so now many antichrists have appeared”.
Antichrist is one of the signs of “the hast hour”. This term is only found in the letters of St. John. “Man of lawlessness”, “the enemy” all refer to antichrist. They all share in their brutal opposition to Christ, his teaching and his followers. The antichrist is an individual or a group. It is a reference to all those who oppose Christ (the “many antichrists”) who have been active since the start of Christianity and will continue to be so until the end of time. We know they exist today!
This expression — “the last hour” was probably familiar to the early Christians. They had a lively desire to see the 2nd Coming of Christ. They were zealous for the 2nd Coming of Christ.
The fullness of time already began with the Incarnation and the Redemption brought about by Christ. And the fullness of time is basically “the time of fulfillment of God’s promises and preparations.” (CCC 484)
From that point onwards, until the end of the world, is the last times. And this is where we’re at: in the last times. We are in the last earthly stage of salvation history. As St. John said in his letter, we are “in the last hours”.
The Catechism confirms John’s teaching that we are in the last hour. It states: (CCC 670)
“Since the Ascension, God’s plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at ‘the last hour’. The final age of the world is already with us, and the renewal of the world is under way beyond alteration or change; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect. Christ’s kingdom already manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend its proclamation by Church”.
As St. John tells us: we are in “the last hour”. The Early Christians had a lively desire and zeal for the Coming of Christ so we want to ask them to stir up our desire and zeal to long for the Coming of Christ too.
Knowing that we are in “the last hour”, we want to have the urgency to spread the Gospel and to stir up our desire for holiness for ourselves and for others.
Tonight, we will literally spend “the last hour” of 2008 in the presence of the Lord! With Jesus, who is the Lord of History, we will welcome the New Year with the highest form of prayer — the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!
Tomorrow, January 1, 2009 is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God and it is a Holy Day of Obligation here in the United States. Of course, you have the option to go to the 8 o’clock Mass or the 10 o’clock Mass in the morning tomorrow. But the 11 o’clock Mass tonight would also count to fulfill the obligation.
Many people will spend their “last hour” at some New Year’s Eve Party. Many will be there to get drunk or to get wasted or to stain or ruin their souls with grievous sins. What a waste to spend “the last hour” like that! Of course, not all New Year’s Eve parties are bad but most of them are!
Remember what Jesus said: “The road that leads to Hell is wide; the road that leads to eternal life is very narrow”.
The last day of the year is always a good day to take account of ourselves:
- A day to thank God for all the blessings He has given us throughout the year.
- A day to beg for His mercy for the sins we commit through our thoughts, our words, and actions.
- And also a day to beg pardon of God for the good we failed to do.
The Church is very wise to add this essential in the Confiteor of the new rite not only “cogitatione, verbo, et opera” (thoughts, words, and actions) but also “et omissione” (and omission) — that’s only good deeds we had the opportunity to do but we let it go by to a waste!
St. Augustine urges us: “To prevent anyone dragging his feet, listen: ‘children, it is the last hour’, go on, run, grow; it is the last hour. It may be an extended one, but is the last hour.”