The central theme of today’s readings is “The Day of the Lord” or the “Second Coming” of Jesus in glory, as Judge, at the end of the world. The readings warn us about the final days of the world, our own death, and the final judgment.
Scripture readings summarized: Malachi, in the first reading, foretells this Day, which will bring healing and reward for the just and punishment in fire for the “proud and all evil doers.” Although St. Paul expected that Jesus would return during his lifetime, he cautions the Thessalonians, in the second reading, against idleness in anticipating the end of the world. Paul advises the Thessalonians that the best preparation for welcoming Jesus in his “Second Coming” is to keep working and doing one’s duties faithfully, as he did.
Today’s Gospel passage underlines the truth that the date of the end of the world is uncertain. Signs and portents will precede the end, and the Christians will be called upon to testify before kings and governors. The Good News is that those who persevere in faithfulness to the Lord will save their souls and enter God’s eternal kingdom. Christ’s Second Coming is something to celebrate because he is going to present all creation to his Heavenly Father. That is why we say at Mass, “We proclaim Your death, O Lord, and profess Your Resurrection, until You come again.” Since Luke’s community had experienced much persecution, today’s Gospel would have given them a cheering reminder: “Don’t give up because God is always with us!”
Jesus’ promise of the protective power of a providing God was meant to encourage His disciples to persevere in their Faith and its practice. Jesus later adds the signs for the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world to prepare His disciples and to remind them to rely upon him for Salvation, not their own power.
Life messages: 1) We must be prepared daily for our death and private judgment. We make this preparation by trying to do God’s will every day, leading holy lives of selfless love, trust in God, mercy, compassion, and unconditional forgiveness. In order to do this, we must recharge our spiritual batteries every day by personal prayer, that is, by talking to God, and by listening to Him through reading the Bible. Daily examination of our conscience at bedtime and asking God’s pardon and forgiveness for the sins of the day will also prepare us to face God any time to give Him an account of our lives. 2) We need to attain permanence in a passing world by leading exemplary lives. We must remember that our homes, our Churches, and even our own lives are temporary. Our greatness is judged by God, not on our worldly achievements, but on our fidelity to our Faith, and our practice of that Faith in loving service of others. How our faithfulness is expressed each day is the most important thing. We are to persevere in our Faith in spite of worldly temptations, attacks on our religion and moral values by the atheistic or agnostic media, threats of social isolation, and direct or indirect persecution because of our religious beliefs. Let us conclude this Church year by praying for the grace to endure patiently all our trials, for they are essential to our affirmation of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.