On The Journey, Judy Bowman

The end of days

The end of days is something many folks like to talk about, and even obsess about. There are many preachers who have made a business out of predicting the end of time. They make money off of that work, too. There have been dozens of groups of people over the centuries who’ve busied themselves with trying to discern the end of this world. Some of them were out for fame or for money. Some were just sadly-deluded fringe-dwelling nut jobs. Others seemed motivated by genuine concern for their little flocks and in helping them prepare for what they truly perceived to be some kind of private revelation which they believe God had shared with them. The one thing all these groups have had in common is that they’ve been wrong.

Here’s what the Catholic Church teaches on Christ’s return and the end of time: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36). Jesus says it, we believe it. Our Catechism teaches us that Christ already reigns in glory through His Church (paragraphs 668-679). We profess the Nicene Creed at Mass every Sunday and we affirm that the second coming of Christ is something we look forward to with great hope. Jesus will come in glory and the dead will rise and each one of us will stand before Him. The symbolism of the “rapture” and the thousand-year earthly reign of Christ are lost on those who read the Scriptures too literally. Jesus spoke many times about us being prepared for His return. When He comes is less of a concern for us Catholics than our work here and now, in our own hearts and lives. Are we making room for Him? Are we living as He taught us to live? Here’s the truth: we’ll meet Jesus at His second coming whenever that may be. But we’ll most certainly meet Him at the moment of our death. It seems a more prudent use of our time, our talent, and our treasure to prepare for that encounter than to worry about the “rapture.”

Instead, we should be like the faithful steward that Jesus described (Luke 12:35-48) who waited on his master’s return from a wedding feast. He kept the lights of his house burning to welcome the master home. Everything was in order; everyone was busy doing their job to make the house ready. The steward wasn’t fearful of his master’s return because he was ready for him. He had done all that had been asked of him. He wasn’t concerned with being punished because he knew the master would be pleased with him. We affirm this in another prayer of the Mass when we pray that we “wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior.” This hopefulness sets us apart from those who dread the end of their earthly journey out of fear. Someone has said that your attitude about death depends on whether you imagine Jesus as your judge or as your friend. Of course, He is both. He is Friend, Creator, Savior, Redeemer, Shepherd, and Judge. Yet we sometimes persist in fear of our friend and our “Abba.” Surely the parable of the good steward should be our guide as we anticipate meeting Jesus face-to-Face.

Moreover, we know that we encounter Him in our daily lives in the many “distressing disguises” He wears. When we serve the poor in our communities and visit the sick and the imprisoned — we meet Him. When we make time for a lonely person or care for a child in need — we make time for and we care for Christ. We’re called to actively participate in building the Kingdom of God which has come to us in Christ (Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:20) and these works of mercy are one way we do that. Catholics believe we live in a kind of “middleness” between the Ascension and His second coming at the end of time. Our salvation is a gift won for us by Jesus on the cross, but we are as St Paul says, “to work out (our) own salvation” (Philippians 2:12) until He returns. In this tension between the “already” and the “not yet” we find the purpose of our lives. We feed the hungry; we love our neighbor; we help bring healing to a hurting world. This purpose and our work are gifts from God and fill us with great joy and sustaining hope.

And so at Sunday Mass when we pray for Christ’s return it is in that same joy and hope. On that day we’ll know the final victory over death and sin and evil. The dead will rise in their newly-glorified bodies and the Church, the Body of Christ, will realize the fullness of Her true nature in Him. I love how St. John describes it: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more.’ “ This is our hope and our destiny. Until then, we must be about our Father’s work, like the faithful steward, our lights kept burning.

“And the One seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new’”. — Revelation 21:5

Glenda Smiley, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church

Pleasant Valley Baptist extends a warm, special invitation for you to worship with us each and every week.

Pleasant Valley Baptist will resume in-person Sunday morning services, October 3rd. Wednesday Bible study will continue to be available on Facebook. The spread of the Delta variant has greatly subsided in our immediate area for which we are grateful. Continue to act wisely and be safe.

This week’s message from God focused on John 14:6. Speaking to Thomas, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”. If you want to go to heaven when you die, you must deal with this statement. Jesus didn’t say you must be a good person, perform good works, and live a moral life. He didn’t say you must be a member of a church or a religion. Jesus didn’t say the teachings or opinion of others is the access to heaven. Neither did He say those who have never heard have an exemption. God’s holiness is indefinable. It transcends any holiness we could even begin to understand. God cannot exist in midst of unholiness.

There is a world view and a biblical view of Jesus. The world view is, God is love, and He is. The world declares because God is love everyone is okay and everyone gets to go to heaven. God is also God of justice. Would God be just if He excused sin in one and not the other? The bible says there is none good, that all have sinned, and all are unrighteous. God holds everyone accountable for sin. God cannot allow anyone to go to heaven without Christ. There must be boundaries to go to heaven. No man is worthy to set those boundaries. Jesus only can determine the boundaries. The bible says the judgment of sin is death and Christ died for all.

The world defines Jesus the way they think He should be. The world is not accepting of what the bible says about Jesus. They believe in Jesus until they are confronted with Jesus of the bible and what it says about Him, Jesus is God. Jesus’ statement in John 14:6 “I am the way” eliminates all other possibilities or ways to get to heaven. Jesus alone grants access to the Father. Believe He is the way, the only way! Jesus died in vain if there is another way. There is no one in heaven now or will be except by the blood of Christ. The ark Noah built had one door. They came by way of “the” door or not at all. Jesus said, “I am the door”.

Whosoever will repent and receive Christ will be saved. Pray, confessing your sin, by faith accept Jesus’ finished work of grace on the cross as payment for your sin. Whosoever will, will be saved to the uttermost. No almost saved. Completely saved or completely lost. Substitute your name in the place of whosoever, today!

Pray for our country and the grave situations we face at home and around the world. Pray for God’s mercy, wisdom, and help. Pray for our President. America, our country, we are seeing the results of choosing to turn away from God, the principle of reaping what has been sown. Our hope is God and as a nation, we must repent. America, indeed the world, needs for God to send revival. Pray for souls to be saved.

Continue to pray for members Mike Cross, Denise Pitts, Betty Pitts, Larry Armstrong, Pastor and his family, myself, Glenda Smiley and all who need our prayers. Pray for Dot McAllister, and our shut-in Lula Petty, health needs. Pray for those who have lost loved ones. Pray for our churches, missionaries, and evangelist.

Join us Sunday mornings at 11 am and evenings 6 pm for in-person services. Sunday services are available on Facebook and YouTube, with Wednesday Bible study on Facebook.

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