The Easter mystery is completed in Christ’s glorious ascension to the Father’s right hand: “a little while and you will not see me.” But he will come again to judge the living and the dead: “and again a little while and you will see me.” The Christian who lives in expectation of Christ’s second coming will experience the hardships of being set apart from the world, of living a life of detachment from the world: “you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will sorrow but your sorrow will turn into joy.” The discipline of the Christian life is not a punishment but a safeguard, that the eternal joys of life with the Triune God may not be lost for the sake of sin and its temporary and deceitful pleasures.
Before Christ’s second coming the church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on Earth will unveil the mystery of iniquity in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
The world offers false joys and hopes by holding out the Antichrists of sexual pleasure, the cult of the body, the materialistic cults of the new age, and worship of creation in place of God. Sometimes those who follow these errors may seem to be joyful while Christians who submit to God’s discipline according to the truth may seem sad. How different all will be on the day when the secrets of hearts will be revealed. The authentic Christian submits in custody of the heart to the virtues of faith, hope, and love. These gifts of God do not fail us and will surely lead us to behold the Lord face to face forever.
I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we “meet Christ in the liturgy”