Short answer: An exclamation from the Bible, found in the New Testament, related to the First and Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
It is, in fact, a combination of two words. But, in the course of history, it has been broken up in different ways:
Maran Atha & Marana Tha!
While at the first Coming of the Lord the encouraging word resounded, ‘the time [of the promise] is fulfilled’, concerning his Second Coming resounds the exhortation, ‘the time is near’.
This twofold aspect of the life of the Church – already rejoicing in the presence of the Lord, and at the same time looking forward to the fulness of His eternal Kingdom – is also reflected in the exclamation ‘Maranatha’.
Through the long ages of the Tradition of the Church this has usually been spelled ‘maran-atha’, i.e. ‘Our Lord has come’. But variant manuscripts show also another, meaningful word-play: ‘marana-tha’, which changes this old confession of faith into a prayer: ‘Our Lord, come!’
Prophecies concerning the last days speak about a particular kind of famine, namely the famine of the word of God. And in our days, although we are being inundated with a flood of words of all sorts, how few of those answer to the deepest needs of heart and soul.
Confronted with this reality, and living with the longing for the word of God, the wish grew to share this treasure – to the measure of our possibilities, limited though they are – in the joy that He has come indeed, and in the longing for His Coming Again:
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