Second Coming

JUST BEFORE THE FINAL BENEDICTION, the New Testament ends with the prayer, "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20). When he came the first time, he came so unobtrusively that except for Mary and Joseph and a handful of shepherds, nobody much knew or cared. But he says he will come a second time.

Who knows how he will come, or when, or where. He says himself, "Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only" (Matthew 24:36). People who in search of a timetable try to crack the book of Revelation like a code are on a wild goose chase. People who claim that all who join their sect will be saved and all others lost are wrong. The ones who will be saved, Jesus says, are the ones who feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and the prisoners (Matthew 25:31-46). If you love, in other words, you're in. If you don't, you're out. It doesn't seem to matter to him whether you're a Jehovah's Witness, a Jesuit, or a Jew.

In one of the more outlandish of his outlandish images, he says he will come like a thief in the night (Matthew 24:42-43). We must be ready at all times therefore. We can never be sure when he will break into the world as into a house, when he will break into our lives.

No one can say just what will happen when that day comes, but that it will be a day to remember there is no doubt. The dead will be raised. The Last Judgment will take place. The present age will end and the new age begin. In Dante's vision, the redeemed will shine like a great white rose unfolding petal by petal in the light of glory. In John's, the new Jerusalem will come down out of heaven like a bride.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness," the risen Christ said to his servant Paul (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is in that hope only that we dare say "Amen" to the prayer that brings all Scripture to a close. 

-Originally published in Whistling in the Dark and later in Beyond Words

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