”At the end of the day it's about how much you can bear, how much you can endure. Being together, we harm nobody; being apart, we extinguish ourselves.” ~ Tabitha Suzuma
“Yes, he is coming says the Lord of hosts. But who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears?” These are the words of the prophet Malachi in today’s 1st Reading (Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24), and it’s important to note the word he uses to describe the way in which he, the “Lord whom we seek, will come to the temple: Suddenly.
Although it is true that no man knows the day nor the hour (Matthew 24:36) of our Lord’s triumphant and glorious return, we do know that he will return with no fanfare or notification, no “spoiler alert” to borrow a phrase that has gained enormous popularity in the Netflix Era. Billy Graham made an astute observation regarding the Second Coming of Jesus, a core tenet of the Christian Faith ~ perhaps the core tenet of our faith ~ one which we are all called to reflect upon during the Advent Season. “Bible teaching about the Second Coming of Christ was thought of as ‘doomsday preaching,’” he said. “But not anymore. It is the only ray of hope that shines as an ever brightening beam in a darkening world.” Perhaps many of you, on the heels of a very tumultuous and at times tragic 2020, can relate to Reverend Graham’s sentiments.
Are we in danger of missing Jesus’ Second Coming, of perhaps being caught off guard? Well let’s remember: outside of a few shepherds and a handful of wisemen, the world missed his First Coming. A room could not be had at any of the nearby Inns. No room, anywhere in the world, for Jesus. I sometimes wonder if that isn’t the case today. As Christians, we are called to repent, to be transformed, the latter oftentimes happening as a direct result of the former. This happens by way of the sanctifying grace offered by the Man whose understated, almost clandestine entry into the world we will celebrate in a matter of hours. With his grace, anything is possible. Without it, nothing is. But as the Prophet Malachi reminds us, we are also called to endure, to persevere in our efforts to live the Gospel.
John the Baptist, an evangelist like no other https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/The-Holy-Gospel-According-to-Grover, still nonetheless lived the Gospel in a way that was perhaps even more dynamic than was his evangelical prophesying. He laid down his life for the truth https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Daily-Mass-Reflections-829. We too are better equipped to teach the Gospel if we live it. And if we live it, we greatly enhance our chances of enduring and persevering, of running the race and competing well for the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). We live the Gospel through prayer and repentance. Repentance brings peace into our lives, the virtue we reflect upon on this the 4th week of Advent. Our 3rd violet candle symbolizes this most cherished of platitudes. “He must increase, I must decrease” said John the Baptist. Very practically we can bring Christ to others by way of this mindset. Seeking to understand rather than be understood, to place others before ourselves. “Behold the Lamb of God! Behold Him who takes away the sins of the World,” said John, the man who made clear the way of our Savior, which is our task as well.
John the Baptist spoke often of this idea of becoming a friend of the Bridegroom, the Bridegroom of course being Jesus. John in fact referred to himself as such. We too must strive to do the same. Do you know Christ better than you did on December 23rd, 2019? What are your plans to know him ever better when you revisit this question on December 23rd, 2021?
Pray for endurance and perseverance. Be joyful. We know how this ends. In fact I urge you all to take a page out of the book of noted author R. Alan Woods who said “I'm having too much fun declaring and demonstrating the Kingdom of God, it's okay if He waits till he returns.”