Joseph Ratzinger Contrasting the Early Christian Call to Christ to Come: “Maranatha” ("Come, Lord Jesus") and Our “Dies Irae” ("Day of Wrath" - Doomsday [when Christ comes]
Ratzinger gives an explaination of the the text below of St. Bernard, his Sermo 5, In Adventu Domini, that reads:
“(T)here are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible, while the other two are visible. In the first coming he was seen on earth, dwelling among men; he himself testifies that they saw him and hated him. In the final coming all flesh will see the salvation of our God, and they will look on him whom they pierced. The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved… Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last…. In case someone should think that what we say about this middle coming is sheer invention, listen to what our Lord himself says: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him” (Office of readings, Wednesday of the first week of Advent).
Ratzinger writes that advent has lost its true meaning of eschatological hope. From the Ascension to the Second Coming, there is a wasteland of the absence of Christ who has come 2,000 years ago, and will return at the end for the final judgment. But the intermediate stage in which we are now, the so-called state of the Spirit by Joachim of Flora, is a valley of tears where we are left to our own devices of a truncated Christianity where moral life is the zenith of our achievement, at the end of which harsh Judgment [Doomsday] will come ("Dies Irae"). This state of affairs is what Francis refers to when he speaks of Christian life today, that morality cannot substitute for sanctity. This getting out of self and going to the peripheries for the others who are always poor in love besides the necessities of life has been bypassed and obliterated. In fact, it doesn’t even surface, and the case in point is economic life. There has been no call to sanctity there. To "out" this has drawn down the ire of “conservative” Christianity on Francis. And this is the reason why he persistently asks for prayer on all sides.
Ratzinger commented: “The term adventus, the translation of the ancient Greek parousia (the arrival of the king and his ongoing and burgeoning presence), has lost its eschatological meaning… [It is obvious that] we are dealing with… a Christianity for which grace and salvation are past, and the future holds only threat and judgment. Isn’t this shifting of the axis the real cause of the crisis in Christianity? Hasn’t Christianity elected to make the past its preferred moment in time and so deprived itself of the future?... I have to confess that my impression is of a sensibility welling up from the late mediaeval period by which Christendom became so attached to its past that it lost hold of both present and future. In part, it must be admitted, Gospel preaching was itself responsible for this deadly development through a one-sided emphasis on the threat of doomsday….
“What can we learn from all this? In the first place, the decisive consideration is still looking to our Lord. Eschatology’s meaning and driving force depend upon the power of this waiting on Christ, not on temporal expectations of the world’s end of transformation, no matter of what kind. Furthermore, though past Christian history receives very considerable emphasis, that history is invoked in the Litany as a generator of hope, and so contains a dynamism directed to the future.”
I break off to send out a few Christmas cards. What fits in here is the entire content of the spirit of Opus Dei which is to achieve the fullness of the baptismal vocation which is to become not only “another Christ,” but “Christ Himself.” This is the universal call to holiness as announced in Chapter V of Lumen Gentium of Vatican II. Having been made in the image and likeness of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, each human person, created and sinful, has been baptized (or destined for baptism), and therefore, chosen and called to be another Christ and a Son/Daughter of the Father. St. Josemaria Escriva received the vocation to announce and provide the formation necessary to achieve this universal call in the founding of Opus Dei. Its ground consists precisely in becoming “Ipse Christus” as the normal and ordinary denouement of imaging The Son and Baptism into Christ. Its practical achievement is neither leaving the world (which is to be loved passionately) and taking the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience which are integral parts of “consecrated life,” but rather living out the hidden life of Christ in the exercise of ordinariy work and ordinary secular life. This is the true eschatology which fills the space between the Ascension to “the right hand of the Father” and the parousia of the Second Coming. The petition is Maranatha rather than Dies Irae. It is the time of hope that vibrates as a result of the exodus from the self to, as pope Francis says, living the mission to the peripheries. Amen. Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus.
Maranatha (either מרנא תא: maranâ thâ' or מרן אתא: maran 'athâ' ) is a two-wordAramaic formula occurring only once in the New Testament (see Aramaic of Jesus) and also in the Didache, which is part of the Apostolic Fathers' collection. It is transliteratedinto Greek letters rather than translated and, given the nature of early manuscripts, the lexical difficulty lies in determining just which two Aramaic words comprise the single Greek expression, found at the end of Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (1Cor 16:22 ).
If one chooses to split the two words as מרנא תא (maranâ thâ), a vocative concept with an imperative verb, then it can be translated as a command to the Lord to come. On the other hand, if one decides that the two words מרן אתא (maran 'athâ), a possessive "Our Lord" and a perfect/preterite verb "has come," are actually more warranted, then it would be seen as a credal expression. This interpretation, "Our Lord has come," is supported by what appears to be an equivalent of this in the early credal acclamation found in the biblical books of Romans 10:9 and 1 Corinthians 12:3, "Jesus is Lord."
In general, the recent interpretation has been to select the command option ("Come, Lord!"), changing older decisions to follow the preterite option ("Our Lord has come") as found in the ancient Aramaic Peshitta, in the Latin Clementine Vulgate, in the Greek Byzantine texts, Textus Receptus, critical Greek texts like Westcott and Hort, Tischendorf, Cambridge, etc., and in the English translations like the King James Version, the Finnish Raamattu, etc. One reason the change from the previous scholarly view has occurred is that the P46 papyrus (ca. A.D. 200) divides it as μαρανα θα ("marana tha").
The NRSV of 1 Cor 16:22 translates the expression as: "Our Lord, come!" but notes that it could also be translated as: "Our Lord has come"; the NIV translates: "Come, O Lord"; the NAB notes:
"As understood here ("O Lord, come!"), it is a prayer for the early return of Christ. If the Aramaic words are divided differently (Maran atha, "Our Lord has come"), it becomes a credal declaration. The former interpretation is supported by what appears to be a Greek equivalent of this acclamation in Book of Revelation 22:20 "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!"
The 1985 New Jerusalem Bible translates 1 Cor 16:22, "If there is anyone who does not love the Lord, a curse on such a one. Maranatha." In the context of First Corinthians, understanding the Greek "maranatha" as Aramaic "Maranatha" in the preterit sense would provide substantiation for the preceding anathema. That is, one who does not love the Lord is accursed because our Lord has ascended and come unto his throne (e.g., Dan 7:13) and wields power to implement such a curse. It would also substantiate the following prayer for grace from the ascended Lord Jesus, who has come to his throne and then sends the Holy Spirit.