Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  Are you among the elect?   Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the First Sunday of Advent. Please read Mark 13:24-37.

 

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For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 11/27/2011The 1st Sunday of Advent.
Please pause this audio and read Mark 13:24-37.
From the choir loft is heard two people looking out the window shouting, “It’s a bird! No, it’s a plane!” The priest of the Church runs over to the window and says, “No! It’s Jesus! Is everyone ready! Here he comes!”
You don’t believe me? Why? Don’t we believe that Jesus will come again?  It could have been at this very minute (if it actually isn’t that moment).  Now, if this were the moment, how did you feel?  Did you feel anything but fear?  The Second Coming of Jesus usually strikes fear in our minds.  We think of the Second Coming, also called the Parousia, we often think of the judgment side of it.  The Nicene Creed says, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead…” That is when all who have lived a life of faith and all who have lived a life of unfaithfulness will be judged “according to their works.”
We could argue the aspects of salvation by faith, but the end result is that those who live by faith will do faithful things and those who do not won’t.  Yet, the fact remains that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom then shall have no end.  This judgment makes us afraid of the Parousia, but why? What does the Scripture passage say?
At that time they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds with great power and glory.  At that time he will send the angels and he will gather his elect by the four winds from the furthest point of the earth to the furthest point of heaven. (Matt. 13:27-28).
The first thing that will happen when Jesus comes again will not be judgment.  The first thing that will happen will be that Jesus “will gather his elect from the furthest corner of the earth to the furthest corner of heaven.” This passage says nothing of immediate, punitive judgment.  In fact, it is a message of hope for those who are elect. The elect will be gathered to Jesus.  What a day of rejoicing that will be! No more imperfection getting in the way of loving God and others.  No more struggling to stop sinning.  No more rejection by the world for not saying and doing what the world wants. All the pains of being a Christian will be o-v-e-r!  Jesus is coming in his power! No one can mess with the power of God! No one. At that time, all of the elect, who have seemed so foolish to hope in a God who is not seen with the naked eye, will be seen to be true and right in our daily working out of our salvation with fear and trembling.  The elect will be with Jesus.  This begs the question, “Who are the elect?”
Well, what exactly does “elect” mean? There are those who would say, like Augustine, that “elect” means chosen before the foundations of the earth by God to be either accepted or rejected. At the Ecumenical Council of Orange, this belief by Augustine was rejected.  You see, “elect” means chosen.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, when she was greeted by the angel Gabriel and told that
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Most High will overshadow you;…Mary said, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
accepted her election to be the mother of God.  She was never predestined to be the mother of God. To be “elect” is simply to be “chosen.”  Many people who have been chosen by God in baptism as infants do not live the chosen life.  They have refused election.
The elect are those who have been called by God and responded by living the holy life.  Scripture tells us that it is the will of God that “all be saved,” but we know that not all will respond to their election.  To be elect simply means that we have been chosen and we have responded to that calling to live the life Jesus has given us.
The Second Coming, the Parousia, is for those who have been chosen by God and have lived the life given to them in their baptisms.  So, for those who have always known the Lord, the Parousia is not something to be feared.  It is something for which we wait with anticipation.  We long to be with Jesus and not have to worry about life anymore.  We long for the time when he will wipe every tear from our eyes.  Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things will have passed away. (Rev. 21.4).
When you were a kid, did you do something for which you knew that you’d really get it if your parents found out?  I want you to remember that time right now in all of its fullness. (pause).  Didn’t you do everything you could to make sure that you weren’t found out?  If you were found out, man, you’d be in for it.  Didn’t you promise God in your prayers that if he got you through this one you’d be good?
Now, think of a time when you were asked to do something good.  When you were asked to do something good, you were also promised a prize, something you always wanted.  Didn’t you badger your parents over and over again for that time to come?  How many of us parents have promised our children that if they are good in the car on the way to grandma and grandpa’s that we would give them something special?  Then how long did we endure the incessant question, “Are we there yet?”
There are people listening to this recording (and I don’t know who they are) and in every church family who are like these two examples when it comes to the Parousia.  There are those to whom the promise of the Second Coming is a thing to be dreaded because they have not taken their Christian/Catholic life seriously.  They will do everything they can to hide it from the other members of eth congregation, but they cannot hide it from their heavenly Father.
There are people listening to this recording (and I don’t know who they are) who cannot wait for the Lord to come again because they know the Lord and have been doing his will.  They wait in eager expectation of the promise of eternal life with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  They give the refrain daily of the Christian version of “Are we there yet” by saying , “Our Father, …thy Kingdom come!..”
These second types are the doorkeepers of the Church.  They have been entrusted with the responsibility in his Church.  They are told by their Lord, “Keep awake!”  They wait continually at the door, preparing themselves for the return of their master.  We are waiting for the Second Coming of our Lord when we will be freed from the rejection of the world.  The rejection of our families, the rejection of those who think we are too serious about our faith.  We will be free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, free at last!
So, I say to all, when you see a bird, or a plane in the sky, keep awake! Amen?  Amen.
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