Dear Friends in Christ,
The imagery of darkness, falling celestial bodies and the heavens shaking is disturbing to the modern mind – as it doubtless was in Jesus’ time, even if the language was more familiar then. Such events, we are told, will precede the glorious appearance of the Son of Man, who will come with his angelic cohort to the earth. When this will happen no one knows (except the Father) – but happen it will! There is a tendency to relegate this vital truth of our faith to the back of our minds. We may think of such language and sentiments as archaic, and find it hard to see it as an essential teaching of our faith. Our scientific world-view makes us uncomfortable with the talk of the end of the world or the consummation of human history.
Today’s reading carries both warning and encouragement: we are to be aware of the times in which we live and prepare for the return of the Lord. The Catechism of the Catholic Church embraces this essential teaching: ‘Since the Ascension Christ’s coming in glory has been imminent, even though “it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority”. This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are “delayed”’ (para.673).
We need to be wary of those who purport fantastic theories and predictions about the end of the world and return to Christ. However, we need to balance our caution with a desire to renew our faith in the blessed hope of the Church, the return of Jesus. The renewal of this hope sharpens our desire to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. As we pray in our hearts, ‘Come Lord Jesus’, a desire for the Second Coming is awoken within us. This living hope can strengthen and fortify us as we seek to live the power of the Spirit.
Lord Jesus, I repent for the many ways I have been dull and asleep to the truth of your second coming. Renew within me today a longing for your return. Restore within me a living hope and anticipation of the new heaven and new earth.