“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith upon the earth?” (Lk 18:8)
Jesus gave us some troubling warnings, as His own Cross approached. There would be dark times – times of an ascendancy of evil and lawlessness – before He would come again. The world would not get better and better and then He would come and celebrate with us for the great success story of the Church! The Church was sent to be light to the world, and to make disciples of all nations – but we were warned that the world would not embrace the Gospel and be converted easily. No, only through great tribulation, rejection, persecution, trial and suffering would righteousness finally prevail.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes this:
Catechism 675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.<Cf. Lk 18:8; Mt 24:12>
Catechism 677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.<Cf. Rev 19:1-9> The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.<Cf Rev 13:8; 20:7-10; 21:2-4> God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.<Cf. Rev 20:12 2 Pt 3:12-13>
These things come to my mind especially these days, as the Middle East seems on the verge of explosion. Where are we headed? What is to come from this? Anarchy? A radical Islamic union under one zealous Caliphate? And is this the unfolding of the Last Days – the antichrist – the Battle of Armageddon – the final and epic confrontation of evil and the victory at last of Christ? It is not so unthinkable in the near future as it once was, to many.
It is good to remember the word of Christ – He is Truth. Yes, there was the Cross, and yes, there was the Resurrection and Glory.
Mt 24:4 Jesus said to them in reply, “See that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and reports of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for these things must happen, but it will not yet be the end. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be famines and earthquakes from place to place. 8 All these are the beginning of the labor pains. 9 Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10 And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; 12 and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.
Jesus told us:
2 Thes 2:3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one doomed to perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God, claiming that he is a god– 5 do you not recall that while I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But the one who restrains is to do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord (Jesus) will kill with the breath of his mouth and render powerless by the manifestation of his coming, 9 the one whose coming springs from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie, 10 and in every wicked deceit for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved. 11 Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie, 12 that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned.
We need to keep our eyes on Jesus, and the eternal and the trustworthy that is from Him. There are many, many uncertainties that test our confidence, and our values, and our faith. Faith is a gift from God, but we must guard this precious gift and nurture it! Presumption is foolishness, as Jesus told the devil who tempted Him in the wilderness: “You shall not test the Lord your God!”
Jesus promised that He would be with us “until the close of the age.” (Mt 28:20) Let us hold fast to faith, brothers and sisters.