Perhaps you’ve heard various Protestant groups refer to something they call “The Rapture.” It can all be rather confusing as they speak of hoping to be “raptured” away from this life and speeded away to heaven. Catholics naturally back away from this idea of “rapture” because it doesn’t sound like anything Jesus every talked about nor anything the Fathers of the Church mentioned. While most of the Protestant understanding of rapture is based on misreading the Bible, there is a biblical idea of rapture.
In the first reading today, St. Paul speaks of the final judgement and the last day at the end of time. All those who have died will of course rise from the dead. But what about those who are still alive at the second coming? These, St. Paul says, will be “caught up” (in Greek…”raptured”) to meet Jesus in the air. So, yes, Catholics believe in a rapture. The problem is that the Protestant notion takes this idea and combines it with the teaching in Revelation that there will be a “thousand year” period of “tribulation” before the end of the world.
The Protestant belief is that those who are “good” should not have to undergo this tribulation and thus will be “raptured” out of the world ahead of time. Obviously this is not scriptural and denies a key part of Christianity. “In the world you will have tribulation, but have courage, for I have overcome the world.” Jesus is not going to save us from this world by preventing our suffering. Rather he gives meaning to our suffering. If we fight the good fight through this life as St. Paul did, then we will indeed be with Jesus on the last day. That will be a truly, and biblically sound, rapturous day.