Each year at the Easter Vigil a new paschal candle is prepared by the priest celebrant or, in our case, the bishop. The paschal can-dle is the large candle that sits behind the baptismal font and it is lighted at Mass during the Easter season, at baptisms, and at fu-neral Masses. The candle itself is a symbol of the Lord Jesus and there are smaller symbols on the candle that point to him as well. There are five pins with wax ends that are pressed into the can-dle in the form of a cross. Each of these pins represent the wounds suffered by our Lord at his crucifixion and at the end of each pin is wax that contains a grain of incense to honor each of those wounds. There is also a wax cross on the candle with thecurrent year in numerals as well as the Greek letters alpha and omega which are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. When the candle is blessed the presider traces the cross, year, and letters while praying “Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega. All time belongs to him and all the ages. To him be glory and power through every age and forever. Amen.”
After a rather abrupt weather shift at the end of October, November is here; we are in the au-tumn of the year. As the calendar year of 2017 races to its end, the liturgical year is coming to its end first with the celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and then the Church year of 2018 will begin the following Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent. Since the end of the Easter season in June we have been moving through the season of Ordinary Time and it may seem just that: ordinary. We do not hear the an-cient stories of our Lord’s birth or of his passion, death, and resurrection at this time, but this time is anything but ordinary because it is precisely during this time that we receive the true call to conversion, to grow more and more in our discipleship each day.
The coming Solemnity of Christ the King, as well as the first part of Advent, reminds us that our Lord will come again, not as the child of Bethlehem, but as the eternal and victorious king. As the prayer I previously mentioned states, all time and all the ages both belong to him and are ordered to him. His return will be the culmination both of all that He did while on this Earth as well as all that the Church has done and continues to do. Our lives must also be ordered to this coming reality. As Christians, our lives are to be directed to the building up and full establishment of the Kingdom of God here and now so that we may be ready to meet him on the glorious day whenever it will be.
For many of us these next weeks will move quickly as the world around us gets overwhelmed in Christmas overload. Tragically, in the midst of all of this, all too many people will lose site of the One whose name and life are at the root of Christmas. As we move to the end of the year, and the many celebrations that it will bring, let us remember to whom and to where our lives are to be directed. We belong to Christ and He has made us heirs of His Kingdom. Does my daily living reflect Him and the inheritance that I have been promised? Am I living my life each and every day in the hope of heaven? Do I think about heaven each day and am I cooper-ating with God’s grace so that I can be there with Him? In every season let us offer to God our praise and thanksgiving for the great things that He has done for us and for the greater things still to be revealed in the Kingdom of Heaven.