In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church this is the First Sunday of Lent. While the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox celebrate a longer period, we're still in the first half. So, I thought I would share this.
The Priest at Mass during his homily commented on how the Church has always viewed Advent as not only a preparation for the coming of the Lord at Christmas, but also as a preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. The following is from the Office of Matins today:
(Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 15, 1-3
We preach not one advent only of Christ, but a second also, far more glorious than the former. For the former gave a view of His patience; but the latter brings with it the crown of a divine kingdom. For all things, for the most part, are twofold in our Lord Jesus Christ: a twofold generation; one, of God, before the ages; and one, of a Virgin, at the close of the ages: His descents twofold; one, the unobserved, like rain on a fleece
; and a second His open coming, which is to be. In His former advent, He was wrapped in swaddling clothes in the manger; in His second, He covers Himself with light as with a garment
. In His first coming, He endured the Cross, despising shame
(Hebrews 12:2); in His second, He comes attended by a host of Angels, receiving glory. We rest not then upon His first advent only, but look also for His second. And as at His first coming we said, Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord
, so will we repeat the same at His second coming; that when with Angels we meet our Master, we may worship Him and say, Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord
. The Saviour comes, not to be judged again, but to judge them who judged Him; He who before held His peace when judged, shall remind the transgressors who did those daring deeds at the Cross, and shall say, These things have you done, and I kept silence
. Then, He came because of a divine dispensation, teaching men with persuasion; but this time they will of necessity have Him for their King, even though they wish it not.
And concerning these two comings, Malachi the Prophet says, And the Lord whom you seek shall suddenly come to His temple
(Malachi 3:1-3); behold one coming. And again of the second coming he says, And the Messenger of the covenant whom you delight in. Behold, He comes, says the Lord Almighty. But who shall abide the day of His coming? or who shall stand when He appears? Because He comes in like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' herb; and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier
. And immediately after the Saviour Himself says, And I will draw near to you in judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulteresses, and against those who swear falsely in My Name
(Malachi 3:5), and the rest. For this cause Paul warning us beforehand says, If any man builds on the foundation gold, and silver, and precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire
(1 Corinthians 3:12). Paul also knew these two comings, when writing to Titus and saying, The grace of God has appeared which brings salvation unto all men, instructing us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, and godly, and righteously in this present world; looking for the blessed hope, and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ
. You see how he spoke of a first, for which he gives thanks; and of a second, to which we look forward. Therefore the words also of the Faith which we are announcing were just now delivered thus; that we believe in Him, who also ascended into the heavens, and sat down on the right hand of the Father, and shall come in glory to judge quick and dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, then, comes from heaven; and He comes with glory at the end of this world, in the last day. For of this world there is to be an end, and this created world is to be re-made anew. For since corruption, and theft, and adultery, and every sort of sins have been poured forth over the earth, and blood has been mingled with blood
(Hosea 4:2) in the world, therefore, that this wondrous dwelling-place may not remain filled with iniquity, this world passes away, that the fairer world may be made manifest. And would you receive the proof of this out of the words of Scripture? Listen to Esaias, saying, And the heaven shall be rolled together as a scroll; and all the stars shall fall, as leaves from a vine, and as leaves fall from a fig-tree
(Isaiah 34:4). The Gospel also says, The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven
(Matthew 24:29). Let us not sorrow, as if we alone died; the stars also shall die; but perhaps rise again. And the Lord rolls up the heavens, not that He may destroy them, but that He may raise them up again more beautiful. Hear David the Prophet saying, You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands; they shall perish, but Thou remainest
. But some one will say, Behold, he says plainly that they shall perish
. Hear in what sense he says, they shall perish
; it is plain from what follows; And they all shall wax old as does a garment; and as a vesture shall Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed
. For as a man is said to "perish," according to that which is written, Behold, how the righteous perishes, and no man lays it to heart
(Isaiah 57:1), and this, though the resurrection is looked for; so we look for a resurrection, as it were, of the heavens also. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood
(Joel 2:31). Here let converts from the Manichees gain instruction, and no longer make those lights their gods; nor impiously think, that this sun which shall be darkened is Christ. And again hear the Lord saying, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away
(Matthew 24:35); for the creatures are not as precious as the Master's words.