Sunday, January 3, 2010

To Await the Second Coming — Addendum

Posted by Webster 
How often does it happen to you that you’re thinking of a spiritual topic—and within minutes or hours you hear a homily or read a book about just that topic?

This morning I wrote about the Second Coming. Tonight I was reading Michael O’Brien’s Father Elijah (too long for the YIMC Book Club) when I came across a passage in which the title character is meditating on the Book of Revelation:

Whether or not the revelation of John describes a period stretched out over three and a half years or twenty-five years, a century, or a millennium is as yet uncertain and remains the subject of debate among biblical scholars. Jesus Himself reminds us that no man knows the hour or the day of the return of the Son of Man. It would not be good for us to know. . . .

Because it is materialized in symbols, the prophecy takes on its own life within the imagination of the believer of any era. It is not merely stored away as one more news item, one more piece of religious information, one more scenario—that would be especially unfruitful for modern man, who suffers massive oversaturation of theory, knowledge, and scenarios. Instead, the revelation takes a form that is a loud shout in a world growing deaf. The authority of its horrific imagery guarantees an absolute claim on the imagination. We are intrigued, puzzled, frustrated, alarmed, and ultimately encouraged. In short, we are aroused to a kind of attention before the mystery of human history as it unfolds, precisely because we do not know when or how the ultimate danger is to be incarnated. With prayerful reading, the book assists in the conversion of attention into holy vigilance, the spirit of the watchman.

I really like this because it says what I was trying to say in the Second Coming post, but says it better. Thinking about the Second Coming, the Apocalypse, the Return of the Son of Man can have tremendously beneficial effects. In a world growing deaf, it arouses our attention. It heightens our vigilance. It creates in us the spirit of the watchman.

I can’t imagine a truly religious life without these faculties, these qualities, these graces.