2 Thessalonians 2:1-3a,14-17
Jesus accuses the scribes and pharisees of neglecting what is most important in God’s Law. He has just declared that the two greatest commandments are love for God and love for neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40). The problem was that the scribes and pharisees mistakenly concentrated on lesser, external things and forgot about the interior acts of the heart. They were attentive to lesser matters like clean dishware, ritual washing before meals, and paying taxes on spices; but by forgetting the weightier things of the law, their hearts were far from God.
Ultimately all men will be judged by God and before God all will be revealed. We will not be able to hide behind lame excuses, sophistical interpretations or false justifications. We will be judged on how we have loved, how we have been merciful with our brothers and sisters, and whether or not we have been faithful to God and his Law.
In his letter, Paul tells the Thessalonians that they should not to be alarmed by a forged letter about the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is true that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead and that those who believe will be taken up into the glory of heaven, but we do not know the day nor the hour of Jesus’ return. Paul teaches that before Jesus’ return a great apostasy will occur and the antichrist (the man of lawlessness; the son of perdition who exalts himself) will appear. This is in agreement with the signs Jesus spoke about in the Gospel.
Jesus has triumphed and will triumph over the evil one and this is a cause for our hope. We place our hope in God who is fully worthy of our trust and is capable of fulfilling our desire for eternal life. We hope in the divine promise of salvation made present to us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the true Witness to the Father, and the sending of the Holy Spirit (P. O’Callaghan, Christ Our Hope, 11-14). The Holy Spirit gives life to the promise of salvation and makes it present in our hearts.
Our words and actions cannot be like those of the scribes and pharisees. Too often we are also tempted to neglect the weightier matters of the law of charity and can think that we are justified by secondary, external works done without charity. In the New Law of grace and charity, it is important to hold fast to the person of Jesus and share in his free, loving and filial obedience to the will of the Father. The way of Christian perfection leads us to the love of God and neighbor and to a further detachment from possessions and to the following of Christ.
As Christians, we believe that God chose us in Christ to be holy and to share in divine glory. Those who follow Christ must stand firm and hold fast to the teachings of the Apostles. God’s grace brings consolation and eternal comfort to our hearts; his grace enables us to do good works and to proclaim the Gospel of salvation to our brothers and sisters.
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