The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
What can nature teach us about the return of the Lord Jesus on the day of final judgment at the end of the world? Jesus quoted a familiar proverb to his audience: Where the body is, there the eagles (or vultures) will be gathered together (Luke 17:37). Eagles, like vultures, are attracted to carrion – the carcass of dying or dead animals. The Book of Job describes the eagle spying out its prey from afar (Job 39:29). The eagles swoop to catch their prey when the conditions are right, especially if the prey is exposed and vulnerable to a surprise attack. Severely weakened or dying prey have no chance of warding off forces that can destroy and kill.
Sign of the gathering eagles and vultures
What’s the point of this analogy? When the day of God’s final judgment and vindication comes, the scene and location will be obvious to all. Those who have rejected God and refused to believe in his Son the Lord Jesus Christ will perish on the day of judgment – just like the beasts of prey who are cut off from the land of the living. The Lord Jesus will vindicate those who have believed in him and he will reward them with everlasting joy and happiness in his kingdom. The return of the Lord Jesus at the close of this present age is certain, but the time is unknown. The Day of the Lord’s judgment and final verdict will come swiftly and unexpectedly. Jesus warns his listeners to not be caught off guard when that day arrives. It will surely come in God’s good time!
Those who accept Jesus Christ as Lord will enter his everlasting kingdom
What does Jesus mean when he says that one person will be taken and another left? God judges everyone individually on how each person has responded to his gracious mercy and invitation to accept his Son as Lord and Ruler over all. The Lord Jesus gives us personal freedom to accept or reject him as Lord and Savior. We are free to live as citizens of his kingdom or to choose for the kingdom of darkness that stands in opposition to God and his rule. No one can pass off their personal responsibility to someone else – no matter how close the ties may be in this present life. We will each have to give an account to the Judge of All for how we have accepted or rejected him as our lord and savior.
The good news is that the Lord Jesus freely offers each one of us the grace, strength, and help we need to turn to him to receive pardon for our sins and healing for our minds and hearts so we can embrace his good will for our lives and find the way to our heavenly Father’s home. The Lord Jesus gives us his Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in his wisdom, truth, and love. The Holy Spirit helps us to turn away from sin and rebellion and to embrace God’s way of love, righteousness (moral goodness), and holiness.
The Lord’s warning of judgment is motivated by his love for each one of us. He does not desire the death of any one (Ezekiel 18:23 and 33:11). He bids us to choose for life rather than death – for goodness and righteousness rather than sin and evil (Deuteronomy 30:19). The Lord’s ‘Day of Judgment’ will bring terror and disaster for those who have not heeded his warning or who have refused his gracious help. The Day of the Lord’s Return will be a cause for great joy and vindication for those who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus.
The choices we make now – for or against Christ – will either lead us on the path of life or death – heaven or hell
God’s Day of Judgment is a cause for great joy and reward for those who have waited with patient hope and longing for the Lord Jesus to return again in glory and power. The people in Noah’s time ignored the Lord’s warning of judgment because their hearts were hardened and they were rebellious towards God. When the great flood swept over the earth, they missed the boat, literally! Whose boat or safety net are you staking your life on – the world’s life-raft to short-lived success and happiness or to the indestructible Ark of God whose foundation is Jesus Christ and his victorious cross? Those whose hope is firmly anchored in heaven will not be disappointed when the day of final judgment comes. They rejoice even now that their names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20) and they look with eager longing for the day when they will see the Lord face to face (Revelation 22:4). Is your hope firmly placed in the Lord Jesus and his return in glory?
“Lord Jesus Christ, I place all my hope in you because you have redeemed the world by your death on the cross and by your victory over the grave. Help me to never lose sight of the goal of heaven that I may live each day in joyful anticipation of your return in glory.”
READY FOR THE BIG SURPRISE?
“It will be like that on the day the Son of Man is revealed.” —Luke 17:30
The end of the world will not only be surprising but quick. There will be no time to do anything at the last minute (Lk 17:31).
The only way to be ready for the end of the world and for Jesus’ final coming is to lose our lives for love of Jesus (Lk 17:33). We do this by deciding to live no longer for ourselves but for Jesus (2 Cor 5:15). We must decide to deny our very selves, take up Jesus’ cross each day, and be disciples of Jesus (Lk 9:23). When we have chosen to do His will rather than “our own thing” (see Mt 26:39), we have been crucified with Christ. Then it is no longer we who live but Christ that lives in us (Gal 2:19-20). Only when we are in Christ and He in us are we ready for Christ at the end of the world.
Christ is coming when we least expect Him (Lk 12:40). He will come “with the suddenness of pains overtaking a woman in labor, and there will be no escape” (1 Thes 5:3). If you are living in Christ and He in you, you are ready. Therefore, cry out “Maranatha!” “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rv 22:20) today — even now!
Prayer: Father, I want to be ready. Promise: “From the greatness and the beauty of created things their original Author, by analogy, is seen.” —Wis 13:5 Praise: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini gave up her dream of evangelizing China and instead obeyed God by working with the poor in the United States.
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2015 through November 30, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 20, 2015.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements