4th Week of Advent
Scripture Reading: Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24
In today’s First Reading, the prophet Malachi asks, “Who can endure the Day of His Coming? Who can stand when He appears?”
Many who profess to be in Christ believe in His promise to return to the Earth. If you ask them, they will say, “Yes, we believe in the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.” But if you ask them what exactly it is that they believe about this coming, they really don’t know how to respond. They simply believe that one day, while the world is busy going about its business, the sky is simply going to crack open, everyone will look up in surprise and awe, and there Christ will be with His holy angels come at last!
While it is true that the Son of God will return to the Earth at an hour and on a day unknown to us, Christ did give us certain warnings and clues to look for so that we would know that His coming was near. The sobering reality is that before the return of Christ to the Earth, the entire world will have to pass through an era of apocalyptic judgments. When these judgments reach their climax, Christ will return to the Earth in triumph to vanquish his foes and judge all nations.
Judgment followed Christ’s first coming and rejection, climaxing in the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of worldwide Jewry, but that was but a dim foreshadowing of the judgment of all nations that will occur before His second coming. According to the Scriptures, the period before the second coming of Christ will be a time of unparalleled tribulation, referred to as the “Great Tribulation” in the Book of Revelation. It comprises the worldwide judgments that will burst upon all of humanity at the height of its rebellion against God and His Christ.
The judgments that are coming will be so terrifying and decimating to sinners that Malachi asks in ominous tones, “Who can endure the day of His coming? Who can stand when He appears?” In other words, who will be able to withstand and survive the terrible plagues and disasters prophesied in Revelation 6-19 which must come before Christ returns? Who will be able to stand (and not be removed by death) when Christ appears, and when He is manifested in glory to make war upon the rebellious and the apostates of the earth?
The Lord will intervene publicly and directly in human affairs at the height of man’s rebellion against Him. The judgment of God will fall with catastrophic suddenness upon the heads of evildoers and rebels against God. The Day of the Lord will see the full venting of Divine wrath against the sins of the world.
While this might seem cruel and unkind of such a merciful God, the truth is that, although God is loving and merciful, there is another side to Him; He is also holy and just. As the Sovereign Creator of the entire universe, He has laid down certain laws for mankind to live by. Those who have rejected those laws because they have chosen to live life on their own terms instead of their Creator’s will pay will ultimate price on the day of His return and in eternity.
In this holy and penitential season of Advent, we need to examine and evaluate ourselves before God to see if there are areas of “rebellion” and “apostasy” occurring in our own lives as well. If you were to suddenly and unexpectedly be confronted with death today, would you be ready to stand before a holy God, or does this make you uncomfortable because of “such and such” in your life? Hopefully, by now, you have already gone to confession sometime during the season of Advent. But if not, in today’s journal, write down a list of what those “such and ‘suches’ ” are and then take that list with you and go to confession in order to confess them to the priest.
We all have areas in which we tend to stumble more than others. If we want to overcome these areas, we need to pinpoint what it is that usually triggers us to sin in that specific way and then look for ways to avoid those trigger points, if possible. You might want to jot down in today’s journal entry what those trigger points are and then think of ways in which you can avoid them in the future so that you don’t keep falling into the same sin.
For example, if a man knows that rushing to work causes him to lose his temper and curse at every driver who has the misfortune of being on the same road with him during that time, the simple solution to this problem would be to get up earlier in order to leave for work earlier so that he won’t find himself in such a “trigger situation” every morning.
When making this “How To Avoid Trigger Situations” list, don’t be afraid to make radical choices. Remember what Jesus said: “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It would be better for you to enter into life with only one hand than with two hands to be thrown into the fire of Hell.”
Although Jesus was not teaching literal dismemberment of one’s physical body, He was warning that if we want to be ready to stand before the Lord in eternity (or at His Second Coming, whichever comes first), we must make whatever radical decisions we have to make in order to avoid any occasions of sin.