Today’s reading reminds me of the Charles Dickens line “They were the best of times and the worst of times.” The time when the early Church was forming was certainly difficult. Even at the best of times, life then was rough, filthy and short-lived. For the early Christians, those times were also dangerous. They were in constant danger of being at best harassed and at worst, killed for their beliefs.
So when the apostles taught that Jesus would come again when the world was full of lawlessness and hopelessness, many thought that the time had already arrived. In their minds, things could not possibly get any worse so, therefore, the time for the second coming had arrived.
The apostles had a hard time convincing some of the early Christians differently. The reading for today was Paul’s attempt at trying to deal with this issue once and for all. He is telling the new church in Thessalonia that certain things must happen first, like the rise of the Anti-Christ. He comforts them by telling them that God chose them to wait out this time until Jesus comes again and that they will be blest for making the decision to have faith.
Sometimes it seems like our world today is in the worst of times. The overcrowded world does not have enough resources to sustain life on the planet. People die needlessly every second of every day. Racism, religious persecution, genocide and just plain hate are a way of life for so many in our world. We know that this is Satan’s work. But is it bad enough yet to be the apocalypse? We will know the answer one day, when we come face to face with our Father in Heaven. Until then, we must also follow the words of Paul and have faith.