What are we holding
“Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
Terror! On Friday evening, our time, we learned of horrible terrorist attacks in Paris, France. Earlier the same day there were similar attacks in Beirut, Lebanon. There are insurgent wars and terrorism across the globe. Those with power and money accumulate more – some through a subtle terrorism and violence that slowly whittles away at the lives of those without. The night of the terrorist attack in Paris also marked a major earthquake off the coast of southern Japan.
Many members of the early Church (1st Century) expected Jesus to return within a generation of His Ascension. In the New Testament, the word Parousia, meaning arrival or official visit is used at least seventeen times to refer to the Second Coming of Christ, except the one case in which it refers to the coming of the “Day of the Lord.”
The Church has always looked forward to the Parousia, the second coming of Christ. Of course as time passed, and as certain Churches grew rich and powerful, those Churches did not make such a big deal out of it.
The early Church prayed Maranatha (Come, Lord!). They longed for the Lord’s return because they knew the glory that was to be realized by those who put their faith in Him. They didn’t care for worldly wealth and power for, as St. Paul reflected, “I consider our present sufferings insignificant compared to the glory that will soon be revealed to us.” Somewhere along the line a good chunk of the faithful lost track of that desire.
We must not assume that we know the day and hour of the Lord. That is pride, and a time only the Father knows. “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” What we do know is that terror will come, earthquakes will happen, earthly death will go on, Christians will be persecuted, beheaded, crucified, and subject to the derision of the worldly.
We, as Christians, need to reconnect to that longing, the desire for the Parousia. When we pray the Creed we need to wholeheartedly proclaim: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” We need to really look forward to “the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” We need to cry out “Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!” If we cannot do that, then we must be holding onto something so much more important than His glory.