Thursday of Advent II – II Peter 3:8-14

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

In what was probably a poorly lit Franciscan priory, in the middle of the 1200’s, in Paris, a friar sat at his desk and watched the ants cross the floor of his cell. He was probably cold. Paris is about as far north as the northern tip of Newfoundland, Canada! The friar’s name was Bonaventura, and he was one of the brightest men of his luminary generation. His brothers referred to him as the Seraphic Doctor. He watched the ants slowly cross his cell because his considerable intellect had bumped up against the mystery of God as he contemplated and wrote. He was stuck, and I think he was stuck on this verse. Peter tells us that with the Lord a thousand years are like a day and a day is like a thousand years. I cannot get my head around that statement, and neither could Bonaventura. But when you are writing theology, you really must try to get your head around big things.

As he looked at the ants, he imagined that their puny little lives were in fact proportionally much smaller than my life would seem to an infinite God. The ants were in a line, one marching after another, like the hours and days of time march along for us. We cannot look far ahead or behind, only seeing the ant in front or behind us. But what if he were to pick up an ant from that stream and place it somewhere else? What if he put it back in line in another spot? What if the days of my life and the whole world are to God like this line of ants was to Bonaventura, only the difference is even greater? What is time to God? Bonaventura really had that internal conversation with himself as he contemplated the infinity of God and time. He came to realize that the universe which seemed to stretch out in front of us like an eternity was much smaller to God than even this line of ants laboriously crossing his humble Franciscan cell seemed to him. Peter tells us that before this magnitude of God, our response should be to repent and trust. The heavens will pass away with a roar, the heavenly bodies be consumed with fire. I will be much smaller than an ant that day. My life and future are wholly in God’s hands. He alone can save on that day. He has promised us a new heaven and earth. In so far as I am able, I shall order my life accordingly.

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