The End and the Coming of Christ

1st. Sunday of Advent
Beloved in Jesus Christ,
Every Catholic often says the prayer: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Now people sometimes ask, why does it say: ‘world without end? The world will have an end, won’t it?’ Well, this is an old English translation of the prayer; they had their ways of speaking, but the proper translation would be: ‘As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever, or, ‘unto the ages and the ages.’ The prayer is saying, that glory to the Persons of the Blessed Trinity has always been given and forever will be given. And so those who ask about this ‘world without end’ rightly call this strange phrase into question. The world WILL end. All that we see will be destroyed.
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One day, a man was walking along with Cardinal George, commenting on the beauty of the skycrappers and the City of Chicago; Cardinal George, in his characteristic fashion said, ‘You know, one day, all of this will be gone.’ This world will have an end.
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As the last Liturgical Year has ended, and we begin the new Liturgical Year today, an important theme given to us is: The End of the World. Today, Our Lord continues to warn his followers that the End will come: ‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay. People will die of fright for what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.’ In many places, Jesus foretells the End of this Universe.
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As if to give us trust in what he says, Christ also predicted that the Great Temple of Jerusalem would be destroyed within the lifetimes of those living, and although it had stood for over 500 years, it was destroyed, just as he had foretold. And so we can trust his telling of the end of this universe.
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‘The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When everyone says ‘we have peace and security, then sudden destruction will come upon them.’ (1 Thess 5:1) ‘the heavens will pass away with violence, the elements destroyed by fire, and the earth and it’s works will be burnt up.’ (2 Peter 3:10)
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For sure, we should care about our world, take an interest in the affairs of this age, work for justice and peace, avoid poluting the environment; but as Christians, we are not overly anxious or worried about whatever is happening this week or this year, because all of this is temporary. Jesus says, ‘do not be anxious about your life;’ St. Paul says, ‘have no anxiety about anything.’ This is because our hearts are fixed, not on the passing things of this world, but on the New World to Come. And so we live accordingly.
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People come up with all kinds of predictions or claims about the end of the world, as you know; but they do not get these ideas from Jesus Christ. “Beyond a shadow of a doubt, said Harold Camping, ‘beyond a shadow of a doubt, May 21, 2011, will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment, and the end of the world will be 5 months later. Well – we are still here.
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Jerry Falwell predicted the end of the world, would be in 2009. The Jehovah Witnesses predicted the world would end in 1914, then they changed it to 1915. When nothing happened, they insisted the end would be in 1918. When that didn’t happen, they assured us it would be 1925. And then 1975. But we are still here. Jesus Christ assures us, ‘you know not the day nor the hour.’ But it will come.
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So what do we know about the end? What events will lead up to it? We only need consult the Catechism of the church, which summarizes what we have been taught by the Holy Scriptures and the teaching of the Apostles.
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Four basic movements will signal the End.
1. The faith will have been preached to all the world, and also the Jewish people will finally accept Christ as the Messiah.
2. The Anti-Christ will appear and lead many Christians away from the faith. Whoever or whatever this will be, will bring a very seductive message, convincing many people that they will find happiness best in turning away from Christ and the Church. This will be the great Apostasy, only those willing to go against the grain will remain faithful.
3. Then will be the great Persecution against the remaining faithful followers; it will be a persecution unlike anything ever before, and so a lot of courage will be needed.
4. Then finally, the 2nd Coming of Christ in glory, the ressurection of the dead, and the End of the World. Then God will bring us to a whole, New Creation, a renewed cosmos – this will be the glory for those who are faithful. On that Last Day, when Christ comes on clouds in glory, good people will rejoice, but evil people will be in terror.
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We can imagine a family in those days. Their life has been hard for that Catholic family, with the persecution; perhaps the father has lost his job because of his faith, or even arrested or tortured. There is pressure against them. The daughter Joanne is doing her homework in her room, when suddenly a bright light, through the curtains, lights up her room. A shout from her mother: ‘Joanne, come outside, come!’ And she runs to her mother, and her mother points to the bright sky. There is coming Jesus in the clouds, in glory – ‘He’s here Joanne. Jesus is here. He’s come for you and I, and daddy.’ And they are so happy, because the End has finally come, and the resurrection, and the New World.
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‘And you will see the Son of Man coming on clouds in great power, and when these things come to pass, lift up your heads, for your redemption is at hand.’
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Friends, as we begin Advent today, to prepare for the Birth of our Savior, Mother Church asks us to consider the first coming of Jesus as a little Child, and not to forget his 2nd Coming, in Glory, that Great Day. We prepare our hearts in these weeks ahead, confess our sins, renew our daily habits of prayer. Maybe something new for these weeks: have the family read from the bible before dinner, pray the Rosary, a little sacrifice – something to bring us closer to Jesus.
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Our Lord gives us the message for our Advent: “Beware that that day not catch you by surprise like a trap. Be vigilant and pray, that you have the strength to stand before the Son of Man.” So as we await the Birth of Christ, we don’t forget the day we will meet Him face to face in glory.
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And in these days, let us wait with Mary too. Mary, pray that during this Advent, Christ would be born ever more in our hearts, making us true Christians, and worthy of his Coming.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of  St. Thomas Aquinas]

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