The Last Day will Come Before the Signs are Understood

Pentecost 26 Sunday

Luke 21:25-26

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars; and on earth, people will be afraid, and they will despair; and the sea and the waters will roar. And the people will faint with fear and with foreboding of the things that are to come on earth; for even the powers of heaven will move.”

This gospel is clearly about the last coming of Christ. Christ foretells in Matthew 24:29 what those signs are: Sun and moon will lose their light and the stars will fall down from heaven and the powers of the heavens will move. Now, since these things will take place in the future, man does not have the ability to say much about them. For although these signs will be terrifying, they will nevertheless be completed in such a way that the Last Day will come before one understands that the signs are fulfilled; this is true especially for the careless people. For Christ says later in Luke 21:34: “Beware lest your hearts are weighed down with gormandizing and drinking and with the cares of this life, and lest that day come upon you quickly; for it will come like a trap over all who dwell on earth.” Therefore, even though they see these signs and also hear that these are the signs of the Last Day, they will not believe it, but think that the Last Day is still far away. We will prove this as follows. First, as has already been said, the Day will come suddenly, like a trap. Add to this what Christ says in Luke 17:24-30 about the days of Noah and Lot. This is also what happened in the final destruction of Jerusalem when the Jews did not believe the many signs and wonders recounted by Josephus that the day of their downfall was at hand; rather, they understood the signs to signify the opposite. Likewise, Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3: “The day of the Lord will come like a thief by night. For when they will say: There is peace, there is no danger–
then their downfall will come over them swiftly.” And St. Peter, 2 Peter 3, foretold these unbelievers and careless people…In a word, the godless were never talked into believing that their downfall is close at hand, so that the word in Psalm 55:23 would stand: “The bloodthirsty and false men will not live half of their lives.” They are always secure and are never afraid; this is why their hour comes suddenly and unexpectedly.

St. Louis ed., 13.1:1006-1008.

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