In Glory to Judge the Living and the Dead
by Rich Maffeo
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead…..
I saw…..one like a son of man, wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold sash around his check. The hair of his head was as white as white wool or as snow, and his eyes were like a fiery flame. His feet were like polished brass refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing water….. A sharp two-edged sword cam out of his mouth, and his face shone like the sun at its brightest. When I caught sight of Him, I fell down at his feet as though dead (Revelation 1: 12-17).
Of all the images I've ever seen of Jesus, none inspired fear. The Baby in a manger, the Man feeding the 5,000 or even the One hanging on a cross inspired a blend of serenity, confidence, and yes, sorrow.
But never fear; and that's unfortunate.
I've known about Christ for decades. I've read the gospels dozens of times. In the thirty years since my conversion to Christianity. I've heard thousands of sermons about Him, taught classes about Him, written hundreds of articles about Him. But I'm not sure the Jesus of my intellect - perhaps even of my faith - has prepared me for the Jesus of glorious reality.
That seems to have been the Apostle John's experience. If anyone knew Christ, St. John did. For three years the Beloved Apostle ate with the Lord, walked with Him, listened to Him teach. He was among Christ's closest friends. It was to St. John, standing at the foot of the cross, that Jesus committed the care of the Blessed Mother.
Yet, the Jesus that John knew was not the same Jesus he met on the Isle of Patmos (Revelation 1). You might remember the story. When the apostle saw the glorified Christ, he fell on his face as a dead man.
Have you ever wondered what it will be like to see Jesus in His glory? Will we raise our voices in hallelujahs, or put our hands to our mouths in reverent and holy awe? Will we stand before Him in exulted adoration, or fall before his feet as dead?
Two thousand years ago, Jesus entered history as a lamb: meek, humble. But when He comes again, it will not be as a lamb. With His eyes a fire, a sword flashing form His mouth, and His face radiant as the sun, Christ will come as King to judge the living and the dead (See Revelation 1).
The certainty of His return in glory should give all of us pause. It should cause us to review our lifestyles and evaluate our priorities. Christ was serious when He told his followers, "Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heave, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21) Surely that is why St. John cautioned Christ's followers to live properly so that we would not shrink from Him at His appearing (1 John 2:28).
"He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead." When we recite those words, we remind ourselves that God gives us plenteous opportunities to find pardon in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We have abundant opportunities to receive Christ's divine life in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
And we ought to take those opportunities seriously.
We might today know about Christ, but one day we will want to live in such a way that we shrink form Him when He appears.
Prayer: Lord, more than anything else, I want to be faithful. I want the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart to always please You. Soften my heart to Your voice. Quicken my mind too obedience. Direct my passions toward your service. Amen.
Next time: His Kingdom
These meditations are compiled in Richard Maffeo's book, "We Believe: Forty Meditations on the Nicene Creed." The book is available through bookstores and his website
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