Friday, December 23, 2022

Advent 2022 Day 27


The Season of Advent calls us to contemplate the Last Four Things, Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell, alongside the great Virtues of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. The fourth week brings together Hell and Love. To love is to live in hell, for to love is to live with the seemingly bottomless chasm that is the weight of absence of the beloved. The child who has grown up and left home. The parent who has died. But on Holy Saturday, Jesus, the lover of every soul, descended into the pit of hell, filling every part of it, claiming it, as much as heaven and earth, for his own. Hell will endure for as long as the New Heaven and New Earth endure, not as a place of damnation or eternal conscious torment, but as the place of longing and desire. This, for the simple reason that our resurrection bodies, though imperishable, are finite, are embodied. If I should take time, in the world to come, the world made new and healed of every harm, to walk the Appalachian Trail, something I have never had opportunity to do before, and my children are not there but off somewhere else, pursuing other adventures, then I shall know the weight of their absence, pressing the very air from my lungs. If not, how would I know the joy of seeing them again, the air now rushing back into me? Hell will endure, but this, too, shall be made New, healed of every pain. Christ’s three realms: desire, deep within, in subterranean chambers of the heart far from human habitation (Job 28:3, 4); it’s consummation, that catches us up into the halls of heaven; and the world that unfolds inbetween.

Love will not, cannot, abandon hell, for they are wed; to live, as the fairy tales remind us, happily ever after.


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