Mal 3:19-20; 2Thes 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19
Jesus is coming soon!
This statement of faith may elicit bored yawns from many of us who may have become weary of the long wait for Christ’s second coming. It may even instill fear in many or bring about regrets about the past for those who feel that they are not yet ready to face Him.
Holy Mother Church does not want her children to have any of these negative responses to Christ’s glorious return. On the contrary, she wants us to await the return of the Lord Jesus with due preparation so that we receive Him with deep joy and gladness.
Jesus teaches us that for us to be ready to receive Him gladly, we must persevere in giving witness to Him in this world. He said that the human and natural tragedies of our lives – lies, wars, natural disasters, persecutions – are all invitations and preparations for our faithful witnessing to Him. These are not just signs of the end, but are divine summons to faithful witness, “It will lead to your giving testimony.”We are to give faithful witness to Him in this world of chaos and evil.
He assures us that He will surely supply all that we need as long as we are intent on faithfully witnessing to Him all the time, “I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.” We shall prevail over the grave and end-time chaos only if we never cease giving witness to Him, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
To be a witness to Jesus Christ is to know, love, and follow Him and His teaching so faithfully and at any personal cost that we also inspire and help others to know, love, and follow Him faithfully. It is not enough to be good persons but Christ-like persons, persons who make Him and His teaching present and life-giving in our world by our words and actions. In short, to be a witness is to be like St. John the Baptist, whose entire life and ministry were a testimony to Jesus Christ. “He (John) came for testimony, to bear witness to the Light, that all might believe through him” (Jn 1:7).
For us to persevere in our witness to Jesus till the end, we must be conscious of the three D’s that challenge and can even destroy our witness to Him.
We must not let anything distract us from following Jesus Christ more closely. Jesus would not even allow His disciples to be distracted by the grandeur of the Jewish temple that they were admiring. He said, “All that you see here – the days will come when there would not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” In Jesus Christ, “something greater than the temple is here” (Mt 12:6). He alone demands our complete and continuous focus, attention, and admiration.
We must keep our focus on Jesus Christ alone and His will for us now as expressed in the duties of our state of life. St. Paul warned us of becoming lazy and disorderly in waiting for the Lord to the point that we ignore our duties, “Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and to eat their own food.” (2Thes 3:12) The words of Jesus must guide our conduct as we fulfill the duties of our state of life and we look to His grace to sustain us in our commitments.
We must not be deceived in our faith and morals. This is the first thing that Jesus said to His disciples as His witnesses, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them.”
The false Christs today are those who tell us that we do not need to sacrifice or endure anything to follow Jesus Christ. They tell us that we do not need to practice chastity anymore but indulge in all passions without boundaries. They tell us that there is really no difference between God’s unchangeable plan for marriage between a man and a woman and what our culture calls “same-sex” unions. They tell us that there is really no difference between the slaughter of the unborn infant in the womb and climate change. They tell us that we need to rethink all that we believe because the Church must become more inclusive even if it means contradicting Sacred Scripture and Tradition.
No matter who these false Christs may be, their designations, or how high up they are on the ecclesiastical ladder, they deserve nothing but to be ignored and avoided like plagues. We just cannot be faithful witnesses to Jesus if we undiscerningly drink in their poisonous teachings. Remember, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Gal 5:9). A single lie can destroy our witness to Christ.
Lastly, we must not be discouraged by anything that we face as Jesus’ witnesses. It is so easy to get discouraged because we do not see our witness to Jesus bearing fruit or we experience a lack of support from others. We may even experience discouragement because of our own inner struggles that make us feel unworthy to call ourselves witnesses of Jesus Christ. Jesus even lists a host of things that can make us discouraged as we wait for His glorious return. He spoke of many wars and conflicts, natural disasters, persecution of true believers, lack of love and betrayal by loved ones, and hatred by others.
We do not get discouraged because the One to whom we bear witness is with us and He sees all that we are going through and He assures us that we will not be destroyed, “Not a hair on your head will be destroyed.” Because of His abiding presence, we can give witness to Him even in the midst of so much distraction, deception, and discouraging things.
Jesus Christ is the faithful witness to the Father and He makes us His own faithful witnesses in this dark and hurting world. He may not give us the power to avoid or to overcome all problems but He surely gives us the power to bear witness to Him while we wait for His glorious return. This is the power that He offers us in each and every Eucharist.
Those of us who are not striving to be His faithful witnesses will only think of His glorious return with dread and regrets. These are those who have succumbed to the myriad forms of the three D’s of our times – Distraction, Deception, and Discouragement.
Only true witnesses of Jesus Christ will welcome Jesus with joyful gladness when He comes.
By the special grace of God offered to us in each Eucharist, let us strive to become and remain those faithful witnesses of His all the days of our lives.
Glory to Jesus! Honor to Mary!