Grace to you!
I promised to reflect on the signs of the end time and I will summary them in this reflection. The goal is to inspire us not to be anxious about tomorrow, but to be positively vigilant as well.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36).
Jesus was warning the apostles as he is warning us too. The prophecies aren’t for the distant past only, such as the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (AD 70). Many are for today and tomorrow.
The Lord wouldn’t take us by surprise though. It’s not in his nature to surprise us with such an event that would be disastrous for many. He will give us ample time to make amends and relate with him. Much of the misunderstandings about the end time and the second coming of Christ surround what the signs are and how to understand them.
Some scholars have provided many lists. In his Trial, Tribulation and Triumph: Before, During and After Antichrist (p. 434), Catholic theologian Desmond A. Birch, who spent 23 years researching the end time and Christ’s second coming themes, and reviewed virtually every notable authority on the subject before the year 2000, listed about nine signs. They include:
1) The gospel must be preached throughout the whole world.
2) There will be a great apostasy or religious defection.
3) The man of sin, the Antichrist must appear. Note: The antichrist must be a singular person, not a series of antichrists.
4) The Jews as a nation must be converted after the full number of the Gentiles enter the Church.
5) Elias is to come and restore all things.
6) There will be a final transformation of the universe and the world will be purified by fire.
7) There will be the Parousia, the second coming of Christ.
8) There will be the bodily resurrection of the dead.
9) The final judgment, death, heaven and hell.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 673-677), a summary of the signs or the general sequence of events in their chronological order, culminating in the second coming, is provided. I suggest we hold onto them.
1. The full number of the Gentiles will come into the Church (see Rom 11:15).
2. The "full inclusion of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of the full number of the Gentiles" (see Rom 11:12, 25; cf. Lk 21:24).
3. A final trial that will shake the faith of the Church, persecutions of untold nature (Lk 18:8; Mt 24:12).
4. Apostasy "in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth" (see Lk 21:12; Jn 15:19-20.
5. The supreme deception, the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh (CCC. 675; see 2 Thess 2:4-12; 1 Thess 5:2-3; 2 Jn 7; 1 Jn 2:18,22).
6. The Second coming. “God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world” (CCC. 677; see Rev 20:12 2 Pet 3:12-13).
Make the judgment for yourself: have all these signs been fulfilled? Certainly not.
Praying for our constant discernment. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.