|photo credit travelsort.com|
Jesus ascended into Heaven almost 2,000 years ago, promising to return. Why is He taking so long to come back? Why doesn’t He just return today and end all the world’s suffering? Is He dawdling? Does He enjoy watching us struggle through life? St. Peter tackled that question in Sunday’s second reading: “The Lord does not delay His promise, as some regard ‘delay,’ but He is patient with you.” So God is not dawdling, but He is being patient in His return.
Why the patience? . . . because there are many people who are not in a good relationship with Him. His patience in returning allows those people more time to come back to Him. God does not wish “that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” He is giving us all the more time to develop the best relationship with Him possible. That relationship is determined by the way we live our lives. The choices we make to do what is good and true are choices to draw closer to the source of Goodness and Truth: God Himself. That is why Peter continued: “Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be?”
When Jesus returns, St. Peter stated, “everything done on [earth] will be found out.” That is, we will all experience the “General Judgement” where all of everyone’s actions, thoughts, words, and omissions from all time will be known by all. God already knows all of this, but now so too will everyone else. We will see all the good and bad effects of everything we’ve ever done. That’s why St. Peter is so emphatic in encouraging us to be “conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion . . . eager to be found without spot or blemish before Him.”
|Hans Memling’s The Last Judgment, 1471|
This is also why all the other readings on Sunday were about “preparing the way of the Lord.” He is going to come back. How is my relationship with Him? Does it need some improvement? If I have “mountains” or “valleys” of sin that need to be “made low” or “filled in,” how do I do that? The answer is surprisingly simple: tell Him. One good Confession will fill in every valley and make low every mountain, standing as an obstacle to a deeper relationship with Him: “Comfort, give comfort to my people . . . speak tenderly to Jerusalem . . . her guilt is expiated!”
Trying to be the sort of person I ought to be,