”The more a person loves God, the more reason he has to hope in Him. This hope produces in the Saints an unutterable peace, which they preserve even in adversity, because as they love God, and know how beautiful He is to those who love Him, they place all their confidence and find all their repose in Him alone.”-Saint Alphonsus Liguori
(Scripture Text: 2 Thes 2:1-3A, 14-17)
We ask you, brothers and sisters,
with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our assembling with him,
not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly,
or to be alarmed either by a 'spirit,' or by an oral statement,
or by a letter allegedly from us
to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand.
Let no one deceive you in any way.
To this end he has also called you through our Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, stand firm
and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught,
either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.
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.
Have your children ever boarded an amusement park ride where the passengers are tilted and whirled all around? If they are seated, you want to be sure they fasten their seat belts and stay in their seats. “Hang on tight!” you admonish. If they are still standing up, you may even jump onto the ride at the last minute and put your arms around them to make sure they are safe.
St. Paul has been on this part of the ride before. He knows the young believers to whom he is writing. He wants to make sure they keep a firm grip on some unshakable truths, no matter how frightening the vibrations along the way may be. It seems that the Thessalonians were getting unnerved by talk of Jesus’ Second Coming to the point that they were losing sight of Jesus and thinking only about the final judgment! Just as an Olympic ice skater can use a focal point to avoid dizziness despite numerous pirouettes, we can maintain our balance as long as we remember one simple fact:
God is in charge.
No matter what the Second Coming actually looks like, no matter when it happens, our heavenly Father will never abandon us or stop loving us. With the Lord by our side, we can face anything, even the final judgment.
Every age has seen its own end-ofthe-world prophecies. “Get ready!” the prophets tell us. The cataclysm is coming tomorrow, a month from now, in 1981. God will destroy all evildoers, and you’d better be on the right side if you want to survive.
But Paul admonishes us: “Don’t be alarmed.”
The ultimate Day of the Lord holds no terror if we see every day as the Lord’s day, a day to spend in his presence. He reminds us that God our Father “has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace.” If we cling to his Spirit, he will “strengthen [us] in every good deed and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:17).
So stand firm! Hold on! But also relax.
God has jumped onto the ride with you. His strong arms are around you.