Fr Bob writes: Another Advent season opens this weekend. As usual, the focus for us as Christians should not be celebrating Christ’s first coming as a child 2000 years ago, but his second coming “at a time you do not know or expect.” (Mark 13:33)
When will the Second Coming of Jesus take place? As the apostles continued staring up to the skies following Jesus’ ascension, angels appeared and told them, “This Jesus who has been taken up from you will return in the same way as you have seen him going up to heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
Early Christians believed Jesus’ return would take place within a few years, if not months. That’s why those who joined the first Christian community at Jerusalem sold what they had and put their money in the common pot. They felt sure that Jesus would return before the money ran out. The passing time was a challenge both to their financial situation and their faith. If Jesus wasn’t returning, something which the early preaching had led them to believe, how true were the other things they had been taught about him?
That is why Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus who sold a piece of property and put the whole amount in the pot was given the nickname “Barnabas,” meaning “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36-7). Paul took up a collection for that community during his missionary journeys. He wanted to support the faith of the Jerusalem community in the return of Jesus. John Mark wrote his gospel, the first of the four to be written, as a member of Peter’s missionary team. The teaching of the return of Jesus undoubtedly was part of Peter’s preaching of the message of Jesus Christ.
Twenty-some years after the ascension, however, Christian leaders were wrestling with Jesus’ “delay.” They thought back to any indications Jesus may have given them. What they recalled was included in passages such as today’s gospel selection. We don’t know when Jesus will return, so keep alert, on watch and ready at all times.