Wednesday, July 9, 2008

2nd Coming of Christ

Last night, my wife (who I hope will add more to this in another post) and I began reading through St. Paul's letters in honor of this jubilee year. We started with Romans and were reading the commentary about the book in the St. Joseph edition of the New American Bible. It mentioned that common speculation says that Paul may have thought the 2nd coming of our Lord would be very soon, maybe even within his lifetime. Because of this possibility, Paul saw the urgency of converting others and spreading the gospel of our Lord. This became one of his main focuses in life, worried that time was running short. So, Seraphina asks me, "Do you think the Catholic Church has lost sight of his coming in glory? Do we not worry about it enough today?" I think that's a mixed bag answer. On one hand, no we do not. Most of us have lost our urgency to evangelize and convert others. We don't see the reasons to quickly get our lives in order so that we will be found prepared at his coming. We are like the 10 virgins who forget their oil until the last minute, then are unprepared when the groom shows up.

On the other hand, there are some very interesting things that the Catholic Church does which do indicate that we have not forgotten. First, we pray about his coming in at least two places during the mass as a community (one when we proclaim the mystery of our faith and the other during the Our Father). I tend to believe what Pope Benedict said in his book Jesus of Nazereth, that many times when we mention the "Kingdom" we are talking about the person of Christ. (I won't go into too much detail about this now). Also, there are convents and monestaries that keep watch all the time with things like perpetual adoration. I believe this idea is steeped in tradition of watching for his coming. Likewise,the liturgy of the hours makes many references to his second coming and our being watchful, and so does the idea that we have "Vigil Masses". Pretty interesting.

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