The heavens and the earth quake, but the Lord is a refuge to His people….
Today’s First Reading from the Book of Joel is taken from its final chapter. The second half of Joel concerns the judgment of the Lord at some unspecified future time. This “day of the Lord” is described in apocalyptic terms that are much more sweeping than the prophecies Joel makes in the first half of the book.
Eschatology is the branch of theology that concerns “the last things”. The Greek word “eschaton” means “end” in the sense of “goal” or “fulfillment”. In both the Old and New Testaments, the “end times” includes the Lord’s judgment. But with the coming of the Gospel, this judgment was revealed in a new light. That light, of course, is “the light of the world” [John 8:12]: Jesus Christ.
Old Testament eschatology, however, is not without hope even if it is without saving knowledge of the One who will fulfill that hope. Today’s First Reading uses language that can seem dramatic and frightening, but which is finally reassuring for those who are truly the Lord’s people. For example, we hear today that the “heavens and the earth quake, but the Lord is a refuge to His people”. For us Christians, we can reflect on this First Reading in light of the Church being the People of God, and how our sharing in the life of the Church reflects our closeness to the Lord Himself.