In today’s Gospel the disciples ask when the Temple will end, and the Lord starts to explain when the world as we know it will end: his Second Coming. Our Lord gives some signs, but doesn’t give them exactly what they’re looking for: a signal. He describes calamities: social upheaval, wars, natural disasters, and persecutions. All of those have existed and will exist during the Church’s pilgrimage on earth, even before the end of history and Our Lord’s return in glory. Our Lord won’t give us a signal, but he will give us the secret to survival: perseverance.
In today’s First Reading the prophet Malachi describes the wicked on the day of the Lord as burning away in a flash; stubble burns quickly and intensely. Yet the just will see the same event as warmth, light, and healing. Even though Our Lord foretells persecution and calamities, we should focus on why he is coming, as the Psalm today reminds us: “The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.” The only people who don’t want justice are bad people, and their injustice will be swept away, no matter how enduring it seemed.
The just will experience moments of pain: the prophet tells us the Day of the Lord will bring healing, which implies that there’ll be healing needed. It will require endurance, not resignation. In today’s Second Reading Paul warns against those who have faced the possibility of the Day of the Lord’s imminence by not working and not living their lives normally. If everything occurs as Our Lord describes in today’s Gospel that attitude is a recipe for disaster. Perseverance requires work and grace. When we’re put on trial it won’t just be our spiritual toughness, but the Holy Spirit that will help us endure and realize that even as we suffer we give witness, and the Spirit gives witness through us. Our suffering and perseverance will inspire others to believe and be saved as well.
Ask Our Lord today to help you stock up on what will truly help you persevere in the long haul: faith, hope, and charity. Don’t focus on when life as we know it will end, but on how to live it in holiness and justice.