We approach the end of the liturgical year and the word of God orients our attention to the End Times which is Christ’s second coming. What should be attitude as we await this day?
Bible readings Malachy 3: 19–20 Psalm 98: 5–6, 7–8, 9 2 Thessalonica 3: 7–12 Luke 21: 5–19
Christians await the second coming of their Lord and Savoir, Jesus Christ. However, such waiting is characterised by mixed feelings. There’s judgement. But who likes to be judged? Judgement is something we want to avoid at all cost, for it implies either reward or punishment. So, there’s fear.
Besides, the coming of the Lord is associated with catastrophic events. The description that the prophet Malachy gives of the end times can’t leave us indifferent. He talks of a day of fire which burns like a furnace where those who have committed injustice and the deceitful will be consumed like dry grass. And in the Gospel, we have catastrophes such as earthquakes, epidemics, wars and famine to mention but just some. Certainly, it’s an image which is in no way edifying. Obviously, no one would like to look forward to such a day. In fact, such depictions intensify the fear and thus and give birth to mixed feelings about Christ’s second coming. Which mixed feelings?
Christians live in the hope of the coming of their savoir, Jesus Christ. So, we speak of the joyful hope. But when we consider what’s associated with this coming, as seen above, you really need to search hard to see the place of joy. There’s more alarm than joy. Where does this mixture of alarm and joy come from?
There’s Jewish influence. For the Jews the Day of Lord is an important of which the extraordinary events serve to announce its importance. It’s a day when God would show his might, on one hand, by punishing the enemies of his people, and on the other hand, by liberating his people. It’s only a pity that a joyful hope for the Day of God’s visitation be drowned in such detailed frightening events. How should we look at it?
End of time as encounter with the Lord
The Day of the Lord’s coming is not the time of severe judgment, God is never severe with anyone. It’s rather a day of encounter with the one who came not in order to judge the world but that the world may have life. With such perspective, the announce of the end of times becomes good news since we look forward to sharing the fulness of life, as the fruit of the salvation wrought for us by Christ. That gives us all the reasons not to be afraid, but to be happy. However, looking forward to the joyful encounter with Lord does not imply negligence. We need to take our responsibility. It means we need to wait for this day with a certain attitude. What kind?
Waiting actively and responsibly
In the letter to the Thessalonians, second reading, Paul addresses a kind of lethargy in the Christian community. Some members say to themselves, for what use should we continue to work if the Lord is coming soon? They want to fold arms and wait for the imminent end of times. That’s why Paul writes to correct and exalt them to work quietly in order to earn their food. Does that concern us?
Well, just look around and you will see. People, even Christians are super busy going about their business. That may give us the impression as though the message of Paul does not concern our society today, which is busy enough. And yet, even our society may be infested with its own forms of negligence and lethargy. Let’s some of them.
End times discourse
You often hear a kind of end times language which, in a way, risks leaving us not to take enough our responsibility. Though the example I have in mind may not apply everywhere yet its seriousness alarms the world over.
From the end times discourse we hear about famine, and so, hearing of people dying of hunger today, for some religious fanatics, that’s only the prophecy fulfilling itself; people of different nations or ethnic groups may be butchering one another, and the response of bible fundamentalists would be: it’s written in the bible that those things have to happen before the End. Similarly, the climatic changes will never be appreciated in terms of the human impact on nature but only as fulfilment of what is announced in the Bible.
With that mentality, we look at the evils going on in the world not as problems that call for action, but only as prelude which announces the Lord’s coming. So, we keep ourselves in a little corner so that the Lord finds us in prayer. Paul warns us against such negligence and lethargy and exalts us to act responsibly.
Joyful hope with commitment
So, as we look forward to the coming of the Lord, that joyful encounter, and since we look forward to sharing life with him in the joy of heaven; it’s here on earth we are called to start realising it. And so, it would be total carelessness on our part as Christians if we consider such human misery only as a horn of the Lord’s coming. Christian responsibility in the world calls us to act.
Pray that we may be liberated from whatever fear that makes us dread the Lord’s coming so that appreciating the joyful hope of this day we may be encouraged to act in the manner to witness the presence of God’s kingdom already right where we are.
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