Monday, December 3, 2018
" Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the Earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man." - [Luke 21: 34-36].
During Advent, we wait in joyful hope for the birth of the baby Jesus.
In these times of terrorism, dire predictions of the end game of climate change, roiling masses of displaced people attempting to migrate yet being turned away, lies masquerading as Truth, self-absorption, greed, and abuse or power -- Aren't we all ready to say, "Bring it ON! Let Jesus come - Sooner rather than later" ?
We know that we will be judged on our personal Final Judgment, when we die. But as Christians we also know, that Jesus is also promised to come at the End of Time.
We know that when we are judged, whether when we die, or upon the Second Coming, "Those who have done right shall rise to Life; the evildoers shall rise to be damned." -[ John 5:29].
There are those who proclaim with certainty when the End of Time will come. But that is just as foolish as claiming that we know or can foretell the day or hour of our own death! We cannot predict with any accuracy when we will die, nor when Jesus will come again at His Second Coming.
I do not believe that this uncertainty is a prescription for Fear. No, I do not believe in a God who wants us to be anxious or afraid every hour of the day and night. Every time we say the Our Father, we repeat: "We wait in JOYFUL HOPE for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ."
The "epilogue" to the Lord's Prayer says: "Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ."
Christians do believe in an ultimate Justice that will overcome all the evil in this world. So often have I despaired, like the author of Psalm 73, saying, "I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They scoff and speak with malice; in their arrogance, they threaten oppression. This is what the wicked are like - always carefree, they increase in wealth."
Yes, there are times of earthly justice, such as instances when an abuser receives 99 times 99 years in prison; or when a man who cheats people out of their life savings goes bankrupt with fines and goes to prison for the rest of his life.
Sometimes, cynically, we wait for this earthly justice and it doesn't happen. A secularist would say, "Well, that wicked man got away with it. He did evil all his life, then he died. He will never pay the price" Well, maybe in this life. . .
But at our Final Judgment, and at the Second Coming, "Our Lord will judge us accordingly. Each person will have to account for his conduct. How well each person has responded to the prompting of God's grace will be made clear. Our attitude and actions toward our neighbor will reflect how well we have loved our Lord." - [Father William Saunders]. . . because whatever we have done to the least among us, we do TO Jesus. -[Matthew 25: 41].
It is as if the evil ones have already grabbed all the riches and comfort for themselves in this life, so they will be denied those in the next life. Father Saunders says, "Those who have rejected the Lord in this life, who have no remorse for sin and do not seek forgiveness, will have condemned themselves to hell for eternity."
It can feel very overwhelming to think about how to prepare for this final test! I have told my son that the mark of a mature Christian is what he does when he thinks no one is looking.
There are no secrets on the Final Day. One's life is an open book. But I also believe in a forgiving God. We all make mistakes. I never hesitate to apologize to my young son, so he knows that everyone makes mistakes; but it's how you pick yourself up again and try to make it right that counts.
I once said to my pastor that waiting for Heaven was simply too long to wait. How about a little bit of Heaven right now? He replied that we see the in-breaking Kingdom of God every time we devote ourselves to the hard work of loving others - not proffering greeting cards or empty phrases like, 'Have a nice day!'; but, digging in and getting our hands dirty, donating a bit more than we think we can; taking initiative to call someone or offer assistance.
And so, we are active in Spiritual Warfare, and mindful of how much we love, because of the hour and the day, no one knows.
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