Jesus told the disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.” ’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’
The early Church believed that Jesus’ second coming would happen imminently. As we read the New Testament, we can sense that it slowly dawned on those early Christians that Jesus’ return might be a long time in the future. We see evidence of early generosity, love and service becoming more constrained, or simply drying up altogether.
Two thousand years on we, like those early Christians, sometimes ask ourselves about Jesus’ promised second coming. Perhaps we sometimes doubt that it will really happen. But … that second coming, that end of time as we know it, is going to happen. The question we should be asking ourselves is not, ‘When will it happen?’ but ‘Are we ready for it to happen?’.
In the second letter of Peter, chapter 3, verse 8, we read: … with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. Peter goes on to say: The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.
These words make it clear that we cannot set the agenda for God. The second coming will happen in God’s good time. However, that good time may be today … the question is: ‘Are we ready?’.
Peter suggests that God is giving us time to ‘get it right’, to sort out the mess that is our lives and get ourselves ready for the moment of judgement. How are we using the time God is giving us? Are we preparing ourselves with worship, prayer and service to others, or have we lost heart? Are we doing our best to prepare for the moment when we are called to give an account of our lives on earth, or are we resigned to being distanced from God for the whole of eternity?
Let us pray for the faith that will sustain and strengthen us as we journey through our mortal lives. Let us pray that, when we feel dispirited and discouraged, we might not forget the love God has shown for us in the earthly life of Jesus Christ. Let us pray that we might remain steadfast in our faith and ready for the inevitable moment when we will find ourselves face to face with the risen and ascended Christ as he comes, once again, into our midst.