When we witness a terrible accident, our first reaction might be to stop and pray for all who are injured or dead, or for all who have lost homes or possessions.
But following that, it’s also common to have the reaction that “I don’t want to think about it anymore.”
In these waning days of the Church year, the readings are intended to lead us to reflect on the end times, on judgment, and on the life to come. But many of us do not want to think about what it is going to be like after we die or when Jesus comes again. We all share a mixture of positive thoughts and negative ones.
In our fearful moments, we ask, “Is there really a heaven? What will it be like?” We wonder about our “heavenly” relationship with our spouse and our children and what we might think or do all day in paradise.
In our grace-filled moments, we are full of joy, hope, and expectation. We know that we are God’s children and that he loves us far more than we are able to love our own children.
Joyful Hope. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). In Jesus, we have a glorious hope and an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:3-4). This is a promise on which we can rely. We have no reason to fear.
Deep inside, where we discover our most heartfelt desires, we confirm this promise from God. We sense the Holy Spirit working and showing Jesus to us. We feel the presence of God watching over us and guiding us. We recognize the goodness of the Lord in our hearts. We know that God is in control. We taste the “first fruits” of his love, and from the core of our being, we want to experience the full harvest of heaven. We know that heaven will surpass all of our expectations and that it will be far better than this sin-filled world.
Thy Kingdom Come. Let’s not be afraid of the Second Coming. Perhaps the best way for us to grow in our confidence in Jesus and in the Second Coming is to ask Jesus to “come in.” The more we are familiar with Jesus, the more we will experience his love and the more we will want him to come again. In the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “Thy kingdom come.” As we say these words, let us also pray, “Jesus, come in. Make your home within me now! Let me be your dwelling place now!”
If you pray, “Thy kingdom come now,” from the heart, you will find Jesus. The Holy Spirit will fill you with God’s love. You will witness your life being transformed. Will you invite Jesus to come into your life? Will you ask Christ the King to be your king? Let us pray, “Come now, Lord Jesus!”
Talk to others around you. In your families or other small groups, speak honestly about the fears you may have of growing old or dying. Share how you think Jesus views your journey as you grow older or face death. Talk about heaven and share what you think it might be like to go to heaven. Talk about the special place that Jesus has reserved for each of his disciples and how wonderful it will be to live with our Lord and King forever. Most of all, and especially if your fears outweigh joyful expectation, talk to the Lord about it. Ask him to stir in you wonder and a happy anticipation of his kingship and his return as King.