We Don’t Know WHEN Christ Will Come Again, but We Do Know THAT He Will Come Again

Nov 12, 2017: 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 6:12-16
Psalms 63:2-8
First Thessalonians 4:13-17
Matthew 25:1-13

This is how Jesus Christ sums up the meaning of His parable: “Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” It’s so easy to forget this. We go on living as if we think this earthly life will go on forever. Nothing is further from the truth. Death is not a distant point in the future, an endpoint of our lives. Rather, it accompanies us each step of the way and could come upon us at any time. And history itself will also die, come to an end.

When will this last day happen?

There are only two possibilities. Either Christ will come again, bring an end to history, and establish His Kingdom definitively before we die; or before that, He will come to each of us at the moment of our death, and to each of our loved ones, and bring us to His judgment seat individually. There is no doubt about this; our Lord has revealed it.

And the Church today is asking us to think about it, to remember it, to have a living faith in it.

It’s possible to get this lesson wrong in two ways.

First, we can lull ourselves into thinking that “the day and the hour” won’t come for a long while yet. We can think we will have plenty of time to worry about our relationship with God later. That is the more common mistake, and Jesus is doing his best today to shake us out of that self-delusion. However, there is another possible mistake.

We can become so obsessed by the second coming that we start getting kind of superstitious, and we see signs everywhere that it will be such and such a day or such and such a year. This too is a mistake. Our Lord says plainly that we should always be ready because we know neither the day nor the hour. We simply need to live each moment as true, authentic Christians, and not get fixated on empty predictions and waste our time watching the clock.

If you tend to fall into this second category, take a lesson from Thomas Edison, the great inventor. Shortly after he opened his first plant, he noticed that his employees were in the habit of watching the lone factory clock. To the inventor, who was a tireless worker, this was incomprehensible. He did not indicate his disapproval verbally. Instead he had dozens of clocks placed around the plant, and he set them so that none were keeping the same time. From then on, clock-watching led to so much confusion that nobody cared what time it was.

If we are overly worried about the date and time of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming, we need to practice living fully in the present moment.

For Catholics, the month of November has long been a time to put things into perspective.

It’s the month when the liturgy reminds us that our Lord will come again, and that this life is not all that there is. The wisdom and peace of mind that come from reflecting on these truths, in the light of Christ’s love, are incalculable. However, we have to put forth the effort to make that reflection. We have to take time to contemplate the changing natural season, or visit the graves of loved ones, or spend more time with the sick and the dying, or read about the past history of salvation and God’s plan for the future.

In this Mass, Christ will come once again to offer himself to each one of us, pledging His faithfulness and the glory to come our way if we stay faithful to Him. As he does, let’s make a promise. Let’s promise our Lord that we will do something concrete to make this month different, to put our personal life in harmony with the Church’s deep meditation on the Last Things.

And let’s not leave this building until we’ve decided what that “something” will be.

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