A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Waiting and Wondering

Posted on: June 20, 2013

A few weeks ago, I heard on the radio that movie theatres want shorter trailers because the previews give away too much.

I’d love to see fewer and shorter trailers, but I understand why the promos are several minutes long: we want to know what to expect.

We need to know what’s on the horizon. We have traffic reports that warn of construction several days in advance, long-range weather forecasts for the week ahead, ads for movies several months before their release, and forecasts about our country’s economic growth for the year. Even real estate agents give us a heads-up: in my neighbourhood, I recently saw a house with a sign indicating that it was for sale “Coming Soon!”

One the many things we’d like to know about in advance is heaven. Just think about all the books by people who have had “near-death experiences” and want to tell the world what heaven is like; TV shows with psychics claiming the ability to communicate with audience members’ deceased loved ones about “the other side”; and, of course, doomsday predictions and cults. All this speculation reveals our need for reassurance that something lies beyond this life—and our longing to know what that something is.

Even Jesus’ disciples were not immune to wondering about the end times. In Matthew 24 and 25, we can read Jesus’ words about what is to come and when.

Jesus said the gospel must be preached to all nations before the end (24:14). Only the Father knows when the end will come (24:36), so we need to keep ready (24:44). When Jesus returns, we will see “the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (24:30-31*), and Jesus will sit on his throne and judge the nations (25:31-46).

According to Revelation, those who receive the gift of eternal life will see God’s face (22:4) and be with him:

He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away (21:3-4).

Some people mock Christians for waiting for Jesus’ return but, as Peter reminds us, “The Lord is not slow about his promise…but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). So we need to do more than just wait; we need to strive to live out our faith as a witness to those who need to hear and receive the gospel message. And we can take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus is with us “always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

If you are new to the Church, you might like to read more about this topic in ss.668 to 682 and ss. 1020 to 1060 of the Catechism.

(*Quotes from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition)


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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