THE END TIMES – 5
December 1, 2013
Today’s readings: Is 2:1-5; Ps 122:1-9; Rom 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44
Today’s passages continue to speak about the end of time. As we have said, even as we assert that we are already in the end times, no one knows when Jesus will return. “For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” (Mt 24:42b). What we do know is this: “our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Rom 13:11b).
As that is true, we must be prepared. “Therefore, stay awake!” (Mt 24:42a). We do not want to be caught unprepared, “as it was in the days of Noah” (Mt 24:37a). People then were going about the normal day-to-day activities, important ones at that, such as eating, getting married, working (Mt 24:38a,40-41). What happened? “They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.” (Mt 24:39a). Instead of life in the ark, they died in the dark waters. Salvation in the ark was at hand, but they failed to read the signs of the times, “up to the day that Noah entered the ark.” (Mt 24:38b). Now the ominous warning of Jesus: “So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Mt 24:39b).
What then are we to do? Jesus gives a comparison. “Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.” (Mt 24:43). We must be vigilant. We must be ready. We must not allow the enemy to steal what rightly belongs to us, the salvation already won by Jesus for us. “So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you did not expect, the Son of Man will come.” (Mt 24:44).
For what happened to the master of the house not to happen to us, knowing we are in the end times, we must be awake. “And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.” (Rom 13:11a). But it is not just keeping awake through the night to prevent the thief from breaking in. More importantly, it is waking up because Jesus is coming. After we have thwarted the enemy from robbing us of our rightful salvation, we now look to the Savior who comes, with fullness of our eternal reward. After the darkness is the bright light of the Savior. Indeed, “the night is advanced, the day is at hand.” (Rom 13:12a).
Specifically, what are we to do? We are to not indulge in the ways of the world but be a people who are preparing themselves for the coming of the Lord.
First, “let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rom 13:12b).
* We are to avoid sin and wrongdoing.
* We are to live in the light of Jesus.
* We are to keep our guard up and constantly wage war on the enemy that seeks to bring us down.
Second, “let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy.” (Rom 13:13).
* We are to live as living witnesses to Jesus.
* We are to avoid worldly pleasures that result in immorality and hedonism.
* We are to relate in love, peace and unity with our brethren, avoiding dissension that keeps us as a body from being used by God for His work.
Third, let us “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” (Rom 13:14).
* We are to imitate Jesus. We are to live Christ. We are to be other Christs.
* We are to deny ourselves and take up our crosses, in order to resist the cravings of the flesh.
This is how we prepare, how we stay awake, how we make ourselves ready for the Lord’s return. “House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” (Is 2:5).
And what a glorious time that will be. The return of the Lord is not a time to be dreaded, but a time to look forward to with great joy. It will be a time when justice and peace will finally reign in the heavens and on earth. “There are the thrones of justice” (Ps 122:5a). There “may peace be within your ramparts” (Ps 122:7a). There there will be no more war (Is 2:4b).
Jesus comes down to earth on the last day, and we go up to heaven to our eternal dwelling. “In the days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills.” (Is 2:2a). This is the salvation of God. This is for all. Jesus died for all so that all might be saved. Our work is to proclaim that salvation to all, so that “all nations shall stream toward it.” (Is 2:2b). Jesus went to great lengths to win salvation for all, and he desires that all might be saved, that his house might be filled. We work in order to help fulfill that desire. When we consider those whom we evangelize, we should think, “For the sake of the house of the Lord, our God, I pray for your good.” (Ps 122:9).
We must then think, pray and work such that “many peoples shall come and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob” (Is 2:3a). This must be our greatest joy, to see people we evangelize making it to their dwelling places in heaven, in the New Jerusalem. “I rejoiced when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” (Ps 122:1). At the end of everything, which is the beginning of everything, we should picture only one scene: “And now our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem.” (Ps 122:2).
Come then, onward to the New Evangelization!
* * *
God bless you all.
“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” (Phil 1:21)