“The Lord is not being slow in carrying out his promises, as some people think he is; rather is he being patient with you, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to repentance.
Since everything is coming to an end like this, what holy and saintly lives you should be living while you wait for the Day of God to come, and try to hasten its coming:” 2 Pt 3:9-13
I was struck by these lines in the reading this week. It reminded me of the unique viewpoint of the Catholic Church when we think about heaven and the Kingdom of God.
Too often, people get caught up in the promise of heaven as a rescue of sorts. I think this is where “Rapture” thinking comes from. We struggle on earth, but we will be swept away into heaven and everything will be better. The question we must raise is, “Why will it be better?” Will we have every desire suddenly fulfilled? Well, yes, but not in the way we think. Our desires will be in complete accordance with the will of the Father. That will bring us joy.
Ponder the line, “and try to hasten its coming.” It implies that we can hasten the coming of the Kingdom in some way. We can! When we make it our goal that, “no one is lost and everyone is brought to repentance,” this Christian love brings His kingdom more fully to the earth, by the power of God’s grace. This brings me to the uniqueness of the Catholic viewpoint.
Our faith is dual in nature. Like Jesus’ two natures it is both human and divine in its mission. We are called to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. Rather than concentrating on us being lifted to heaven, we can work towards bringing a piece of heaven to earth. We do this by filling actual human needs, both physical and spiritual.
My niece demonstrated this in an extraordinary way. She, her husband and her daughter were relocated to San Diego. The rest of her family lives on the East coast. My sister and I have raised our kids in the same neighborhood, on the same street, so this was a very difficult move for her.
She experienced major culture shock when she arrived. She had never experienced pan-handlers jumping on her car and asking for money before. She was shocked and fearful.
Then she decided to do something positive in response. She and her husband packed up 17 gift baskets with jackets they thought they could live without, bottled water and food. In each basket they included an encouraging note about God’s love for each person. They drove through their new neighborhood and distributed them to people in need. Yes, even to the pan-handlers. She, without recognizing it, was fulfilling our mandate as Catholics, to spread the gospel and assist in bringing the Kingdom of God to earth.
When we sacrifice in the name of justice, fight hunger, and help to bring others to repentance, we work in union with Jesus Christ. We become His hands and feet and voice. We bring the Kingdom more fully to the earth. May God bless you all this Advent season and let’s work to truly prepare the world for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.