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(Part 239)


August 28, 2018
Today’s reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-16

I have written a number of times about the end times, which I believe we are already living in. Though I stress that it could be another millennium before Jesus returns, or any time before that. No one knows, but we need to be prepared. Now.

In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul cites two events that will precede the second coming. “For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one doomed to perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God, claiming that he is a god” (v.3b-4).

The first one is already upon us. This is apostasy. Apostasy is the turning away from, falling away, abandonment and rejection of the faith. 99 of the 100 sheep are lost, outside the sheepfold (the Church). Christian Western nations are now post-Christian, not just turning away from the faith but becoming antagonistic to the faith. We are losing Catholics by the day­to the world, to sects and even to cults. Many Catholics, especially in the Western world, are in favor of the culture of death­contraception, divorce, abortion and same-sex unions. Many Catholics who can still be seen in Church are nominal or cultural. There are many sexual-predator priests and those who violate their vows, especially in the Western Church.

The second event is much more enigmatic. It is not easy to understand, and through the years there have been many speculations as to who or what the lawless one, or the man of sin, is. The NABRE in the footnote says that this depicts “human self-assertiveness against God in the temple of God itself. The lawless one represents the climax of such activity in the account.” We already see in the world today, and even within the Church, the move towards liberalism, which basically is a focus on the individual­his rights and his well-being. Oftentimes, this leads to a loss of focus on God’s righteousness. Morality becomes subject just to one’s conscience (often flawed) and not on objective truths of the faith and the age-old teachings of the Church.

So this is “human self-assertiveness against God.” But now, it is also “in the temple of God itself.” Many in our Church hierarchy are turning left and liberal. Many priests have become sexual predators, with their victims including seminarians, and doing their evil acts in Church facilities. Pro-LGBT Masses are being held in parishes, with the LGBT banner in the front of the Eucharistic table. Drag queens pose with priests in the sanctuary.

So not only are Catholics leaving the Church, but Catholics are bringing the evil of Satan into the Church. Apostasy has come, and the lawless one is more and more being revealed.

Why has apostasy come, and why are there many Catholics who believe in the lawless one? Such is “the mystery of lawlessness (that) is already at work.” (v.7a). The coming of the lawless one “springs from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie” (v.9). The father of lies has been deceiving very many, causing them to perish. How are they, including ministers of God, deceived? Satan uses “every wicked deceit for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved.” (v.10). Catholics today have turned from the truth of the gospel. They accept the lie and reject the truth. Bad has become good, and good has become bad. What had always been bad and not accepted, like abortion, divorce and same-sex unions, have now not only been accepted but are being promoted. Even abortion is being celebrated as a sacrament.

Thus are Catholics perishing rather than being saved. “Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie, that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned.” (v.11-12). Such Catholics believe the lie and thus stand condemned.

What are we to do? First, we must be thankful for what God has done for us. “But we ought to give thanks to God for you always, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in truth.” (v.13). Because of God’s great love, we are chosen, we are saved, we are sanctified, we see and believe in what is true.

Second, we are called to do His work, and in doing His work, we are destined for greatness. “To this end he has also called you through our gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v.14). We are to live the gospel and to share the gospel. This is a glorious calling, as we do divine work, the very work of Jesus.

Third, “stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.” (v.15). In our Church, we have the age-old teachings and the Magisterium. In our community, we have our formation programs and many teachings, given orally or in writing. We ought to know what is right and true. Live them out. We must be able to recognize modernist and secular humanist ways, including those promoted by ministers of the Church. Reject them. And to help us grow in holiness, be faithful to the covenant.

Much is wrong in the world today and even within our Church. But we always have our Lord Jesus. We have been saved in him. We are to bring that salvation to the ends of the earth. We do so in the strength of the Holy Spirit as God’s holy warriors.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.” (v.16).

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