The time to reap has come.

The images in the Book of Revelation can be perplexing. A vision of someone like a son of man on a white cloud and wearing a crown? Well, that might represent Jesus in his heavenly glory. But what about the sickle and the reaping, the harvest and the “wine press of God’s fury” (Revelation 14:19)? What do those mean?

Biblical images of harvest are usually associated with the four “last things”: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. Think about Matthew 13:36-43, where weeds and wheat are harvested all together and then separated at the end of time. Or the parable of the sheep and the goats (25:31-46), where the king acts as judge and places sheep on his right and goats on his left—and things don’t go so well for the goats!

So why does the Church present us with frightening images like these as the liturgical year ends? The short answer is that meditating on these “last things” can help us make better decisions today. When we’re aware that our choices have eternal consequences, we see those choices more clearly and take them more seriously. As Pope Francis once said, “Before making an important decision, . . . imagine oneself before God at the end of days” (Homily, November 4, 2019).

That might seem like an intimidating suggestion when you are facing a tough choice. But instead of feeling uneasy, try to consider how God sees that choice. Would he tell you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23)? You might also ask yourself what kind of harvest this choice will yield. Some will lead you closer to the Lord, and others will lead you away from him.

So today, remember the promise and hope of your eternal destiny. Those “last things” are not just sobering prospects; they are blessed opportunities. You have been made a child of God and are called to spend eternity in his presence. You have the chance to cooperate with God’s grace and choose to love and serve him each day. Then, when the “harvest” comes, you will be ready to meet him with joy.

“Jesus, I trust in your mercy and guidance as I try to follow you.”

Revelation 14:14-19
Psalm 96:10-13
Luke 21:5-11


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