Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
1st Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
Responsorial: Psalm 23:1-3, 5-6
2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
When the Son of Man comes in his glory . . . (Matthew 25:31)
Thinking about the Second Coming of Jesus can make us feel a little fearful. We know it will be wonderful to be with Jesus in heaven forever, but we also worry about the unknown. Today, let’s try to put aside this fear by imagining three scenes surrounding the Second Coming.
Scene 1: Fix your eyes on what it will be like when you see Jesus sitting “upon his glorious throne” with all the nations gathered around him (Matthew 25:31). Imagine what Jesus will say to this largest gathering of all time. The 2013 Kumbh Mela pilgrimage in India is currently the largest gathering, counting thirty million people. But even this pales in comparison to the potential of thirteen billion people coming together!
Scene 2: Fix your eyes on Jesus’ attractiveness. Pope John Paul II attracted so much attention wherever he went, simply because of his personality. He always projected a sense of joyful hope, of confidence in the Lord, and of love for the people he was with. He seemed always to make a personal, deep connection with his audience, no matter what the occasion was. Now, as attractive as he was, Pope John Paul II cannot come close to what will happen when Jesus returns. His love, his purity, and his joy will be unparalleled. This is why all the nations will gather around him.
Scene 3: Fix your eyes on the new heavens and new earth that Jesus will establish. Imagine a place where there is no need for doctors, police officers, prisons, military bases, or homeless shelters. Think of how Disneyland is called “the happiest place on earth.” Well, when Jesus ushers in the new creation, the “magic” of Disney will seem mundane and ordinary. There will be nothing but peace, joy, and contentment in the presence of the Lord.
Keep these scenes in mind all day today. Let them banish any fear of the unknown.
“Jesus, I can’t wait to see you!”
Questions for Reflection or Discussion:
- In the first reading, God describes himself as a shepherd watching over us, his flock: “Thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly.”
- What does the degree of God’s care for his sheep tell you about his great love for us?
- Why do you think it is difficult in today’s world to relate to this pastoral metaphor describing God as a shepherd? As a shepherd of your family, how would you describe your role? In what way is it to mirror God’s care for you and to be a witness of a life conformed to Jesus our Shepherd King?
- The responsorial psalm is Psalm 23 and like the first reading, it continues the metaphor of the “Lord is my shepherd.” It also describes his great care for us, his sheep: “In verdant pastures he gives me repose. Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul. He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake.”
- What are the similarities between the first reading and the responsorial psalm? Are there any differences?
- Since we, as Christians, are one of the sheep being described, how faithful are you in allowing Jesus to give you repose, lead you besides restful waters, refresh your soul, and guide you in “right paths”? What changes can you make to be more receptive to Jesus your shepherd?
- The second reading begins with these powerful words: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end.” The reading continues with these words: “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
- What do the following words mean to you? “For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ.”
- Paul also describes Christ as risen and reigning. What specific steps could you take to increase Christ’s reign in your heart, in your family, in you parish, where you work, or in your neighborhood?
- In the Gospel, Christ lets us know exactly the things that are important to him when he sits as king on his throne at his second coming. Of course, we all want to be the sheep on his right and not the goats on his left; we all want to hear these words from Jesus, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”
- Which of the actions he describes for the sheep on his right are you willing to do more of in the upcoming weeks, and perhaps, as Advent and Christmas promises to the Lord?
- What do these final words to the sheep on the right mean to you? “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Can you identify the “least brothers” of Jesus in your life, knowing that Jesus our King, and our Shepherd, places so much importance on your serving them?
- The meditation opens with these words: “Thinking about the Second Coming of Jesus can make us feel a little fearful. We know it will be wonderful to be with Jesus in heaven forever, but we also worry about the unknown. Today, let’s try to put aside this fear by imagining three scenes surrounding the Second Coming.” Scene 1 begins with these words: “Fix your eyes on what it will be like when you see Jesus sitting ‘upon his glorious throne’ with all the nations gathered around him.” Scene 2 begins with these words: “Fix your eyes on Jesus’ attractiveness.” Scene 3 begins with these words: “Fix your eyes on the new heavens and new earth that Jesus will establish.”
- What about you, are you apprehensive when you consider the Second Coming of Jesus? Why or why not?
- Which of the three scenes described in the meditation was most meaningful to you? Why?
- Take some time now to pray and ask for an expectant faith and joy in knowing that one day Jesus is coming back and you will see him face-to-face. Use the prayer below from the end of the meditation as the starting point.
“Jesus, I can’t wait to see you!”