There has never been a shortage of people who think they can predict His return. But they are wrong, and they lead others astray. Here is what St. Ephrem the Deacon, writing some 1,650 years ago, had to say about it, as we read in today’s Office of Readings (from the Liturgy of the Hours):
To prevent his disciples from asking the time of his coming, Christ said: About that hour no one knows, neither the angels nor the Son. It is not for you to know times or moments. He has kept those things hidden so that we may keep watch, each of us thinking that he will come in our own day. If he had revealed the time of his coming, his coming would have lost its savor: it would no longer be an object of yearning for the nations and the age in which it will be revealed. He promised that he would come but did not say when he would come, and so all generations and ages await him eagerly.
Though the Lord has established the signs of his coming, the time of their fulfillment has not been plainly revealed. These signs have come and gone with a multiplicity of change; more than that, they are still present. His final coming is like his first. As holy men and prophets waited for him, thinking that he would reveal himself in their own day, so today each of the faithful longs to welcome him in his own day, because Christ has not made plain the day of his coming.
He has not made it plain for this reason especially, that no one may think that he whose power and dominion rule all numbers and times is ruled by fate and time. He described the signs of his coming; how could what he has himself decided be hidden from him? Therefore, he used these words to increase respect for the signs of his coming, so that from that day forward all generations and ages might think that he would come again in their own day.
This season of Advent reminds us that Christ is Lord of history, and not merely a historical fact or event. He rules over time and space, and is not ruled by it. We cannot ever “force” His return (as some thought would be the case if there were a nuclear holocaust, for example). No matter how messed up we make things in this world, He will still return at the time of His choosing. At the very moment that He has established, He will come again… and it could be while we all are still alive. So we must be ready.
Are YOU ready?