The Second Coming of Christ.
The Liturgical Year of the Church comes to a close Sat. Nov. 26, 2022, and a new liturgical year begins with the first Sunday of Advent on Sun. Nov. 27th. At this time of year the Biblical readings at Mass tend to focus on the end times – where is history headed, what is the culmination.
This theme is a fitting ending to our series of articles on what Jesus and the Bible have to say about how we are to live in this world, so today’s last article of that series explores what the second coming of Jesus Christ is all about.
We’ve already discussed the “antichrist,” the “man of lawlessness,” who will exalt himself and proclaim himself to be God (2 Thes 2:2-4). He comes first before Christ returns. He will be given great power (Rev 13:2) and practically the whole world will go to war against God (Dan 7:25. Rev 13:6; Ps 2). From the Bible, it appears the antichrist will not come as a political power nor as an ideology, but rather as a presence in the world – a personal presence, an evil presence, a presence of deception and lie.
During this time, the Church will experience not only persecutions from without, but also apostasy from within. There is presently a restraint on the antichrist from being revealed until “his time” (2 Thes. 2:6), and it seems that what holds the antichrist restrained is the unfolding of the great apostasy in the Church. Apostasy from within is very fertile ground for the antichrist to gain acceptance. So the Catechism says this time will be as a final Passover for the Church where she will “follow her Lord in His death and Resurrection,” but still God will have the “victory over the final unleashing of evil” in the “form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.” (CCC 677, with ref. to Rev 19:1-9; see also CCC 676.)
This “cosmic upheaval” is another occurrence to come about before the return of the Lord. There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars, and upon the earth much distress and fear; the [demonic] powers of the heavens will be shaken; and they will see the Son of Man coming with great glory (Lk 21:25-27; Mt 24:29-30), and “the sign of the Son of man” will appear in heaven (Mt 24:30). When we should see these things, we are told to look up and raise our heads because our redemption is drawing near (Lk 21:28). Christ will come as lightning comes from the East as far as the West (Mt 24:27). Christ will send His angels with a loud trumpet call to gather His elect (Mt 24:31). Therefore, we must watch at all times and pray that we may have strength to escape all these things and stand before the Son of Man (Lk 21:36; Mt 24:36-44).
Finally, the Last Judgment of the Nations (Mt 25:31 ff.) – the judgment of the world in justice and righteousness (Ac17:31) – will occur. St. Paul says the “wrath of God” (judgment) is coming on account of the earthly things such as immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness which is idolatry (Col 3:5-6). In the same place, Paul also makes a most interesting statement: “When Christ appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col 3:4).
With the Judgment of the Nations, Christ’s reign in the world is then completed. He must reign until He has destroyed every rule, authority, and power and put all enemies, including death itself (cf., Heb 2:14), under His feet (1 Cor 15:24-26; Phil 2:9). Then comes the end when He delivers the Kingdom to God the Father (1 Cor 15:24-25, 28; cf. Phil 2:10; Heb 1:6, 13, 2:8).
So for all Christ’s faithful wherever they may be, we pray first, for the grace to watch, be vigilant, examine the signs of the times, look for Christ's return, and to escape the tribulations of the end times and stand before Christ in full confidence of His Mercy at the Last Judgment. For those who have not yet come to Christ, now is the time. Receive Christ’s mercy. Do not delay any longer.
Dibby Allan Green