Waiting for Jesus' return

7 August 2022 19th Sunday, Year C

A priest walked into a bar and made an announcement. “Anyone who wants to go to heaven, please stand up now.”

Everyone stood except for one man who continued to sip his drink at the bar. The priest said to him, “Sir, don’t you want to go to heaven when you die?”

The man looked up and said, “When I die? Yes. But I thought you were gathering a group to go now.”

In today’s gospel, the Evangelist Luke brings together several of Jesus’ parables that focus on the call to persevere and to be vigilant as we await the final end-time drama.

As Christians, we inhabit a strange situation where we must live out our busy, work-a-day lives while always conscious that Jesus will one day return and utterly transform the world as we know it. The very ordinariness of our lives is always threatened by a possible outbreak of the extraordinary. As Luke’s Jesus warns us, his return will come on “a day and at an hour we do not expect” (Luke 12:40)

Like the man in the story above drinking quietly in the bar, however, we are not quite prepared for that final day to happen any time soon. While each day we pray the words of the Our Father, “may your kingdom come”, we silently add the caveat, “but not right now”. We have plans and dreams yet unrealised; tasks unfinished; and hopes unfulfilled. If the second coming of Jesus is imminent, it would prove inconvenient.

This reaction is, in part, due to fear – fear of the unknown. Jesus told us very little about the when and the what of the end times. Indeed, in Mark’s Gospel (13:32) Jesus says that not even he was privy to the exact timetable of the last days. We are told that we must remain at our posts, be on guard, and be ready for Jesus’ return.

But generations have passed since the time of Jesus, and little has changed. War and want, pandemics and politicking, disease and death continue to define our world. So, it isn’t simply fear that has led to trepidations about the end, it is also weariness; we have grown weary of waiting for Jesus’ return.

Today’s gospel suggests that because of this weariness, our focus has turned from the return of Jesus’ return and the coming of the God’s kingdom to the acquisition of worldly wealth and the attainment of personal success.

We must ask ourselves, have we lost sight of what ultimately matters in life? If so, then it may be time to reboot and to renew; to reconsider our priorities and reorder our plans and dreams, tasks and hopes. We may not know the day or the hour when Jesus will return. But ‘right now’ is the perfect day and hour to reflect on our goals, our achievements, and our values to determine if they are helping or hindering our faith journey.

Ian J Elmer

© Majellan Media 2022

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