We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that it will be the same for those who have died in Jesus: God will bring them with him. We can tell you this from the Lord’s own teaching, that any of us who are left alive until the Lord’s coming will not have any advantage over those who have died.
At the trumpet of God, the voice of the archangel will call out the command and the Lord himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise, and then those of us who are still alive will be taken up in the clouds, together with them; to meet the Lord in the air. So we shall stay with the Lord for ever. With such thoughts as these you should comfort one another.
Second reading for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
In life, in death, our trust is in the Lord. He has conquered death, and calls us to life: our trust is in him. Paul assures that it is this simple, and this sure.
He elaborates this faith with an anticipation of how ‘the End’ (which is but a new Beginning) will be experienced. And maybe there will be trumpet sound and clouds ascending and descending and a stratospheric convocation between the Lord and believers. Or maybe not. Paul uses contemporary mythic imagery to describe the ‘how’. We might well use imagery drawn from our contemporary mythologies. How we image the ultimate triumph of God’s love and life over death and human folly does not really matter. What does matter is our faith in God and the confidence in love and life, and in how we face death, that flows from that. We believe and, by his grace, we live in Christ, now and forever.
Grave marker. Cimetierie Montparnasse, Paris, (c) 2013, Allen Morris.