For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
Jesus will return. He said so. His apostles said so. The Church creeds affirm it. Twenty-three of the twenty-seven New Testament books mention Christ's return. Of the 260 chapters in the New Testament, there are more than 300 references to Christ's Second Advent – an average of more than one reference per chapter!
Yes, Christ’s return is certain. And there is no reason to believe it could not be imminent.
But St. Paul tells us Jesus is coming back for a people living out their baptismal faith, people who do more than live Sunday-only Christianity. He’s returning for a people “holy and blameless” and “without spot or wrinkle . . . .” (Ephesians 1:4; 5:27)
Which is why, as I think from time to time – and with increasing frequency as I get older – as I think about the Lord’s inevitable return, I like to ask myself if I am ready. Sure, I’ve been baptized. Sure, I receive the Sacraments. Sure I try to ‘walk the talk.” But the subtle, often unrecognizable temptations seeking to lull me into complacency are ubiquitous.
And they often occur at the most unexpected times.
That is, I am sure, why the Lord told us of the servant who laid aside the living out of his baptismal faith; Who thought to himself: “My master is not coming for a long time.’” Then Jesus warned, “The master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:48-51)
If ever there was a time I needed God’s grace to continue this faith journey with His hand clutched in mine, it is in this time.