Hodie et cras. Today and tomorrow. These two words occur again and again as it were a leitmotiv in the liturgy of the Vigil of the Nativity.
Today, know that the Lord is coming; today, stand firm, be constant; today, be holy, sanctify yourselves; today, be on your guard; today, mortify yourself and have confidence.
Tomorrow, you will see the glory of the Lord; tomorrow, He Himself will go out before you; tomorrow, you will be saved; tomorrow, His salvation shall reach the ends of the earth.
It is one of those days in our liturgical calendar that serves as a model for our entire life. Stretched out between today and tomorrow, we have something to do today so that tomorrow may be what God intends it to be. What we do today, the way we live it, will determine what tomorrow will be.
The light of faith therefore enlightens today, urging us to make proper use of our freedom to be ready for tomorrow.
On that first Christmas Eve more than 2,000 years ago, the world was in dire straits. All the Gentile peoples were abandoned to greed, lust, cruelty, exploitation, war, murder, death. And they were all going to eternal Hell. The Chosen People of the Jews, which prophetically symbolised the Catholic Church, was not much better off. Even though it had the promises of God and the Law of Moses, it was ruled by greedy, ambitious men whose concern was not to prepare for the Messiah, but to guarantee their own lasting position thanks to compromise with the occupying Roman authorities.
Today we find ourselves in a similar situation. The world is the scene of growing vice, with the added ingredient of a strong dose of irrationality which makes it extremely difficult to even hold conversations with many people. On the side of the Church, confusion reigns supreme while very few have the courage to stand up and proclaim the truth with clarity. Souls are being lost in droves. Tomorrow looks bleak. How can souls be saved in this context? Outside the Church, ignorance and vice reign supreme. Inside the Church crookedness and deviant practices lead Catholics to live more and more like pagans. A great facade remains which more and more are seeing through: any approach which condones disobedience to God’s law under whatever kind of terminology it might happen to cloak itself is undermining the Church from within.
Today things are dark, but tomorrow looks darker.
And so we remember “Hodie scietis – today you know that the Lord will come, and tomorrow you will see His glory” (Exodus 16). “Fear not, be not dismayed, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. O Juda and Jerusalem, fear not, tomorrow you shall go out against them and the Lord will be with you” (2 Paralipomenon, 20).
But for that to happen, today we must be constant, we must stand with confidence, we must practice penance.
The transformation was not instantaneous. Christ would live 30 years unknown to the world before undertaking His mission of salvation. We too must wait for God’s time.
Tomorrow depends upon today.