Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Things

Today's first reading starts on a rather ominous note: "It is the last hour." (And that gets repeated a sentence later!) Usually we connect "last" with the "end" of something. "Last" has a tone of finality to it, appropriately enough for New Year's Eve, the "last" day of the calendar year. But "last" can also have a ring of appreciation to it: "At last!" "Last" can signify completeness: "The last of the shipment arrived today." "Last but not least," the word can also mean "newest" or "most recent." So it's not all doom and gloom.

This "last" day of the year is also a kind of preview of the end of time, the Parousia on the Last Day. New Year's Eve as the "last" day shares a few things in common with that ultimate Last Day: there is a hint of judgment, as we draw up a kind of balance sheet on our personal life (we may even pronounce a judgement on the year). There is a hint of hope and expectation, like our expectation of the coming of Christ on the Last Day. We solemnize this last day, gathering with others to "await the joyful hope and coming" of the new year, and we greet its arrival "with shouts of acclamation" (along with fireworks and maybe some Champagne).

There's a tradition in many churches of keeping a prayerful vigil as the clock strikes midnight, so that the New Year opens in prayer. But whether you welcome 2009 in vigil or at a party...
Happy New Year!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I welcomed in the New Year amid many fire works in my dreams. I count the days until I see you again.