Friday, February 18, 2011

Would the Apostles die before the Second Coming?

Jesus also said to them, “Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the Kingdom of God has come in power.” (Mark 9:1)
These words from this morning’s Gospel reading (in the Ordinary Form) give rise to a certain question: How can it be that the Lord Jesus would tell the disciples that some of them would live until the coming of God’s Kingdom? Does he mean to suggest that they would live until the second coming? What is the Kingdom of which Christ here speaks?
For our answer, we turn to the great Jesuit biblical scholar, Fr. Cornelius a’ Lapide (all that follows is from his Commentary on the Gospels).

The Kingdom is the Church, or Christ Transfigured
In His Kingdom. You will ask what was this kingdom of Christ; and when some of the Apostles standing there beheld it? S. Gregory answers (Hom. 32, in Evang.), and Bede, that this kingdom of Christ was the Church, and its diffusion throughout all nations, which verily the Apostles beheld, yea, brought about. Christ says this, says S. Gregory, that from the spread of the Church’s kingdom, which they were about to behold, they might learn how great would be their future glory in the heavenly kingdom, which in this life is invisible. For God, by the visible things, which He sets forth, confirms the hope of the invisible promises. And, 2. Some think that it was to take place at the resurrection, and in the day of judgment, of which Christ spake in the preceding verse.
But I say it took place in the Transfiguration of Christ. For in it they beheld Christ’s glorious kingdom as in a glass. Three of the Apostles, namely, Peter, James, and John, had a foretaste of this kingdom. This view is plain from what follows. All the three Evangelists who relate the Transfiguration, place it immediately after this promise, as though it were the fulfillment of it. Thus SS. Hilary, Chrysostom, Jerome, Ambrose, Theophylact, and others, passim. Whence S. Leo says (de Transfig.). In the kingdom, that is in royal splendour. For in His Transfiguration Christ gave to His Apostles a specimen of the glory, the joy and the happiness which the Saints shall obtain in the Heavenly Kingdom, that He might thereby animate them to Evangelical labours and sorrows, and that they might animate others to the same.
After the same manner S. Jerome animates Eustochium. “Go forth,” he saith, “for a little space from thy prison, and picture to thine eyes the reward of thy present labours, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man. What sort of day will that be when Mary the mother of the Lord shall meet thee with choirs of virgins? When after Pharaoh with his host has been drowned in the Red Sea, she shall sing the antiphon to the responsive choirs, as she bears the timbrel. Let us sing to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea. Then shall Thecla joyfully fly to embrace thee. Then too the Spouse Himself shall meet thee, and shall say, Arise and come, My kinswoman, and My fair one, for lo the winter is passed, the rain is over. Then the angels shall wonder and say, who is this that looketh forth as the morning, beautiful as the moon, chosen as the sun? Then the little ones, lifting up the palms of victory, shall sing with concordant voice, ‘Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the Highest!’ Then the hundred and forty and four thousand before the Throne, and before the Elders shall hold their harps, and shall chant the new song.”
Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!


Anonymous said...

Many modern Biblical scholars (read liberal) use this quote to somehow show Jesus wasn't divine and made mistakes about the Parousia.

Thats their problem, not Our
Lord's. I believe Christ's prophecy was fulfilled in these words in the Resurection. Christ's defeat of death, and our redemption is the coming of the Kingdom in Power!

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

The opinion you criticize (which is held by many liberals today) has indeed been condemned by Gregory the Great as a heresy -- it is called agnoeticism.
The agnoetics claimed that Christ did not know the day or hour of his Second Coming -- specifically they claimed that Christ, in his human intellect, was ignorant.
The Catholic doctrine has maintained that Christ knew the time of the Parousia not "from" his humanity, but "in" his humanity [for it was infused knowledge given to his soul, rather than knowledge from sense experience].

Yes, you are quite correct to reject these modern heretical scholars! And I do agree that the Resurrection is also a fulfillment of this prophecy.

Nick said...

The Pope, in "Jesus of Nazareth", says Jesus meant His Transfiguration.

I also think this, and I think He even meant, for John at least, His apparition to show him what had happened, was happening, and was to happen, as recorded in the Book of Revelation.

Nick said...

Hi all,

Actually, the Bible explicitly gives us the answer to this question:

[16] For we have not by following artificial fables, made known to you the power, and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ; but we were eyewitnesses of his greatness. [17] For he received from God the Father, honour and glory: this voice coming down to him from the excellent glory: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. [18] And this voice we heard brought from heaven, when we were with him in the holy mount. (2nd Peter 1)

Here Peter is speaking of the Transfiguration, and he uses the same language as Jesus did in the Gospels.

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