Question 125:

Why will Jesus Christ return?


Answer: The bible says that we shall work for our salvation "with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). However, hope is the most dominant emotion when Christians think of the last judgment. The reason for this is that Christians look at everything as coming from Christ and pointing to Christ. The Old Testament already mentions the day of the Lord, when God will punish all the evil of His people, but at the same time save and restore them. The meaning of this only becomes truly apparent in the New Testament. Christians are awaiting the day of Jesus Christ, His returning in glory. Then the whole world will see that Jesus Christ is the original cause and the core of history. Everything will be measured against Him and His truth. He is the one God has sent to judge the living and the dead. The Bible announces this with majestic metaphors. They all point to the same truth – in the end Christ will triumph, and with Him truth and justice. The small, the humbled, the forgotten, the victims of terror and disasters will come into their own, all evil and unjust violence will perish. Thus the proclamation of the final judgment is truly "Good News".

Christians should think and speak much more often of "... until He comes in glory!" , a part of the Eucharistic prayer. Christians of the early Church delighted in the hope of the second coming of Christ, indeed, they expected this coming of the Lord for the near future. The realization that the end of time might be a long, long time away crystallized only very slowly. But for Christians this was no question of timing. There was no crisis when the expectation of the Second Coming was not fulfilled immediately. The coming of Jesus is still a very real expectation. Being a Christian means living in expectation.

Occasionally there are people who claim to know exactly when that time will come, although the Bible tells us that no-one knows the day or hour (Mark 13:32). They point to wars and disasters which Jesus announced to be the precursors to the end. They are, however, no pointers to a specific date. Rather, the proclamation of Jesus gives a different meaning to all the horrors of this world: for Christians they are a sign of the coming salvation! Even the "antichrist", whose coming will precede the end of time (2 Thessalonians 2:4), is not a specific person in history. The world is full of such opponents of God, but their power is not to frighten Christians because Jesus will claim the final victory.

And so Christians expect Jesus to bring about the fulfilling of history. This is good news to make us joyful. At the same time it has considerable importance for the present - it is not we who will accomplish the perfecting of the world, but the Lord who will do this. Once we have understood this we will no longer follow those who proclaim other kinds of heaven on earth. Truly believing Christians are not confused by the ebb and flow of world history. They have the duty to fight for justice, to do as much good as they can, but they must not expect to be able to achieve it all on their own. The hope in the victor and the judge Jesus Christ protects Christians from dangerous utopias which, as history proves, easily end in blood and tears. Thus the proclamation of the coming of Christ in glory protects us from the false hope of earthly paradise, as well as from lame resignation without hope. (Slightly adapted, from W. Henze, „Glauben ist schön. Ein katholischer Familien-Katechismus“. Harsum: Köhler, 2001, pp. 176-7.)


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