THE DAY OF THE LORD — PART II
THE phrase "day of the Lord" should not be understood as a literal "day" in length. Rather,
With the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. (2 Pt 3:8)
Behold, the Day of the Lord shall be a thousand years. —Letter of Barnabas, The Fathers of the Church, Ch. 15
The tradition of the Church Fathers is that there are "two more days" remaining for humanity; one within the boundaries of time and history, the other, an everlasting and eternal day. The next day, or "seventh day" is the one I have been referring to in these writings as an "Era of Peace" or "Sabbath-rest," as the Fathers call it.
The sabbath, which represented the completion of the first creation, has been replaced by Sunday which recalls the new creation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2190
The Fathers saw it fitting that, according to the Apocalypse of St. John, towards the end of the "new creation," there would be a "seventh day" rest for the Church.
The Fathers called this age of peace the "seventh day," a period in which the righteous are granted a period of "rest" which still remains for the people of God (see Heb 4:9).
…we understand that a period of one thousand years is indicated in symbolic language… A man among us named John, one of Christ’s Apostles, received and foretold that the followers of Christ would dwell in Jerusalem for a thousand years, and that afterwards the universal and, in short, everlasting resurrection and judgment would take place. —St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, The Fathers of the Church, Christian Heritage
This is a period preceded by a time of great travail on earth.
Scripture says: ‘And God rested upon the seventh day from all His works’… And in six days created things were completed; it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year… But when The Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from Heaven in the clouds… sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day… These are to take place in the times of the kingdom, that is, upon the seventh day… the true Sabbath of the righteous. —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Church Father (140–202 A.D.); Adversus Haereses, Irenaeus of Lyons, V.33.3.4, The Fathers of the Church, CIMA Publishing Co.; (St. Irenaeus was a student of St. Polycarp, who knew and learned from the Apostle John and was later consecrated bishop of Smyrna by John.)
Like a solar day, the Day of the Lord is not a 24 hour period, but is comprised of a dawn, a midday, and an evening that stretches out over a period of time, what the Fathers called the "millennium" or "thousand year" period.
…this day of ours, which is bounded by the rising and the setting of the sun, is a representation of that great day to which the circuit of a thousand years affixes its limits. —Lactantius, Fathers of the Church: The Divine Institutes, Book VII, Chapter 14, Catholic Encyclopedia; www.newadvent.org
Just as night and dawn intermingle in nature, so too does the Day of the Lord begin in darkness, just as each day begins at midnight. Or, a more liturgical understanding is that the vigil of the Day of the Lord begins in twilight. The darkest part of the night is the times of Antichrist which precede the "thousand year" reign.
Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition. (2 Thess 2:3)
‘And He rested on the seventh day.’ This means: when His Son will come and destroy the time of the lawless one and judge the godless, and change the sun and the moon and the stars—then He shall indeed rest on the Seventh day… —Letter of Barnabas, written by a second century Apostolic Father
The Letter of Barnabas points toward a judgment of the living before the Era of Peace, the Seventh Day.
Just as we see signs emerging today which signal the possibility of a global totalitarian state hostile to Christianity, so too do we also see the "first streaks of dawn" beginning to glow in that remnant of the Church, shining with the light of the Morning Star. The Antichrist, operating through and identified with "the beast and the false prophet," will be destroyed by the coming of Christ who will purge wickedness from the earth, and establish a global reign of peace and justice. It is not a coming of Christ in the flesh, nor is it His Final Coming in glory, but an intervention of the power of the Lord to establish justice and extend the Gospel over the whole earth.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid… There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea… On that day, The Lord shall again take it in hand to reclaim the remnant of his people (Isaiah 11:4-11.)
As the Letter of Barnabas (an early writing of a Church Father) indicates, it is a "judgment of the living," of the godless. Jesus will come like a thief in the night, while the world, following after the spirit of Antichrist, will be oblivious to His sudden appearance.
For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.…as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building. (1 Thess 5:2; Luke 17:28)
Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who will endure the day of his coming? (Mal 3:1-2)
The Blessed Virgin Mary in many ways is the chief messenger of our times—the "morning star"—preceding the Lord, the Sun of Justice. She is a new Elijah preparing the way for the global reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Eucharist. Note Malachi’s last words:
Lo, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the day of the LORD comes, the great and terrible day. (Mal 3:24)
It is interesting that on June 24th, the Feast of John the Baptist, the alleged apparitions of Medjugorje began. Jesus referred to John the Baptist as Elijah (see Matt 17:9-13).
Midday is when the sun is brightest and all things glow and bask in the warmth of its light. This is the period during which the saints, both those who survive the preceding tribulation and purification of the earth, and those who experience the "First Resurrection", will reign with Christ in His Sacramental presence.
Then the kingship and dominion and majesty of all the kingdoms under the heavens shall be given to the holy people of the Most High… (Dan 7:27)
Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over these; they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for (the) thousand years. (Rev 20:4-6)
That will be the time prophesied by the prophets (which we are hearing in the readings of Advent) in which the Church will be centered in Jerusalem, and the Gospel will subdue all the nations.
For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord form Jerusalem… On that day, The branch of the LORD will be luster and glory, and the fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor for the survivors of Israel. He who remains in Zion and he that is left in Jerusalem will be called holy: every one marked down for life in Jerusalem. (Is 2:2; 4:2-3)
As Pope Benedict wrote in his recent encyclical, free will remains until the conclusion of human history:
Since man always remains free and since his freedom is always fragile, the kingdom of good will never be definitively established in this world. —Spe Salvi, Encyclical Letter of POPE BENEDICT XVI, n. 24b
That is, the fullness of the Kingdom of God and perfection will not be achieved until we are in Heaven:
At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness… The Church… will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1042
The Seventh Day will reach its twilight when the radical freedom of human will chooses evil one last time through the temptation of Satan and a "final antichrist," Gog and Magog. Why there is this final upheaval lies within the mysterious plans of the Divine Will.
When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. (Rev 20:7-8)
Scripture tells us that this final Antichrist does not succeed. Rather, fire falls from heaven and consumes the enemies of God, while the Devil is cast into the pool of fire and sulphur "where the beast and the false prophet were" (Rev 20:9-10). Just as the Seventh Day began in darkness, so too does the final and everlasting Day.
THE EIGHTH DAY
The Sun of Justice appears in the flesh in His final glorious coming to judge the dead and inaugurate the dawn of the "eighth" and everlasting day.
The resurrection of all the dead, "of both the just and the unjust," will precede the Last Judgment. —CCC, 1038
The Fathers refer to this day as the "Eighth Day," the "Great Feast of Tabernacles" (with "tabernacles" implying our resurrected bodies…) —Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi, The Triumph of God’s Kingdom in The New Millennium and End Times; p. 138
Next I saw a large white throne and the one who was sitting on it. The earth and the sky fled from his presence and there was no place for them. I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds. (Rev 20:11-14)
After the Final Judgment, the Day bursts into an everlasting brightness, a day which never ends:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband… The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb… During the day its gates will never be shut, and there will be no night there. (Rev 21:1-2, 23-25)
This Eighth Day is already anticipated in the celebration of the Eucharist—an everlasting "communion" with God:
The Church celebrates the day of Christ’s Resurrection on the "eighth day," Sunday, which is rightly called the Lord’s Day… the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection… for us a new day has dawned: the day of Christ’s Resurrection. The seventh day completes the first creation. The eighth day begins the new creation. Thus, the work of creation culminates in the greater work of redemption. The first creation finds its meaning and its summit in the new creation in Christ, the splendor of which surpasses that of the first creation. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2191; 2174; 349
WHAT TIME IS IT?
What time is it? The dark night of the purification of the Church seems inevitable. And yet, the Morning Star has arisen signaling the coming dawn. How long? How long before the Sun of Justice rises to bring about an Era of peace?
Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?" The watchman says: "Morning comes, and also the night…" (Isa 21:11-12)
But the Light will prevail.
First published, December 11th, 2007.