What does Jesus' second coming mean?

As the year 2000 approached, one of the promises Jesus made to his disciples received increasing attention: "I will come again." Due to a variety of sources (Scripture, fundamentalist sects and persons, and various prophecies) this teaching has undergone a long and varied history of interpretation.

What does it mean when one speaks of Jesus coming in glory? Is there a specific time involved? Can the Book of Revelation be a guide? Will "the end" be a time of destruction or new birth? These are some of the questions that are asked when language of the "second coming" is spoken.

All this talk may lead you to think that all that is important is in the next life. This is not the case. The Church and sacraments are resources that Christians have been given to live out the message of Christ in the here and now. Your sights, therefore, need to be set on this world while recognizing fulfillment is the next.

The first three things that usually come to mind when thinking of "judgment of the living and the dead" are heaven, hell and purgatory. These words have their limitations as well as their truth. How might judgment ' be expressed today? What are Christians judged upon? Where do fairness and mercy come together?

Finally, Jesus' ministry was about the Kingdom—a place where God's peace and presence reign. Jesus used a banquet, a wedding feast and other parables to describe this ''place.'' Is the kingdom a place or more a state of being? Ultimately, it must be admitted that it is hard for the Church—you and me—to talk about things that can't be seen, only imagined.

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