My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN
"But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His Angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of the earth to the farthest part of heaven." (St. Mark 13:24-27)
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On March 10th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors, and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Martyr Quadratus of Corinth and those with him: Anectus, Paul, Dionysius, Cyprian, and Crescens; our Righteous Mother Anastasia the Patrician of Constantinople; Saint Marcian; Holy New Martyr Michael Mavroudes was perfected in martyrdom by fire in Thessaloniki in the year 1544; our Righteous Father John of Khakhuli in Georgia, who was called Chrysostom.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Mothers, Holy New Martyrs, Holy Fathers, Holy Righteous, O Christ Our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY MARTYR CODRATUS OF CORINTH and others with him. In a time of persecution of Christians, many of the faithful fled to the mountains and caves. The mother of this Codratus did so. She was pregnant just at that time, and gave birth to Codratus in a forest, dying almost at once. He was kept safe and fed by the Providence of God and his Guardian Angel. Codratus grew up in solitude with nature. He who gave manna from heaven to the Israelites in the wilderness released a sweet dew from a cloud onto the mouth of the child Codratus. When he was twelve years old, he went down to the town, and there some good people took a fancy to him and educated him. He studied medicine and then began to heal the sick, using both natural medicine and, more importantly, the spiritual power and prayer which had been with him from childhood. When a new persecution arose under the pagan Decius, Codratus was taken for trial and thrown into prison. Five of his friends stood beside him and confessed the Name of Christ. They were: Cyprian, Dionysius, Anectus, Paul and Crescens. They were all dragged through the streets and struck with sticks and stones by the unbelievers, especially by the children, until they arrived at the scaffold. Here the martyrs prayed to God and were beheaded with the sword. A spring of water gushed out onto the earth at the spot, which to this day is called by St. Codratus's name and commemorates the heroic death for Christ of the holy six. They suffered with honor for the Truth in Corinth in the year 250 AD, in the time of the pagan Roman emperor Decius and his governor Jason.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Orthros (Matins) Old Testament: Isaiah 9: 9-10:4
Esperinos (Vespers) Old Testament 1: Genesis 7: 1-5
Esperinos (Vespers) Old Testament 2: Proverbs 8: 32-9:11
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"No limit can be set in our progress toward God because no limit can be set on the beautiful." (Saint Gregory of Nyssa)
THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
By Dennis E. Engleman (Source: Ultimate Things: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on the End Times)
"When your sufferings shall have ended, your righteous shall go with you and the glory of the Lord shall accompany you."--Saint John Maximovitch
It may be that our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking ahead to Antichrist when He said, "What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" (St. Matthew 16:26). For, without a doubt, Antichrist will be the first and last human capable of gaining the whole world. And the cost of this great acquisition will be not only his own soul, but the souls of all people who side with him.
Antichrist will become the undisputed secular and religious leader, the so-called "god" of mankind. He will "solve" many of life's problems, and those bearing his mark will enjoy a brief period of pleasure and prosperity.
At that time, all the troublesome Christians will be either dead or in hiding. Worldly pursuits will preoccupy the people of earth completely. Ignorant of the disaster waiting in the wings, they will behave as though they were immortal. "And as it was in the days of Noah," says the Gospel, "so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all" (St. Luke 17:26,27).
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh pointed out that the presence of Noah among his generation was both condemnation and salvation: "It was condemnation because the presence of one man who had remained faithful...was evidence that that was possible, and that those who were sinners, those who had rejected God...could have done likewise...Yet it was also the salvation of his time, because he was the only one thanks to whom God looked with mercy upon man."
So shall it be at the very end. The world will have reached its apex of carnality, its nadir of spirituality. Concerns of the flesh will be all-important. As Saint John Chrysostom noted, "Amid such evils they lived in luxury...When Antichrist is come, the pursuit of unlawful pleasures shall be more eager among the transgressors...But they that are held by the intoxication of wickedness shall not so much as perceive the dreadful nature of the things that are on the point of being done."
God in His mercy and love will have sent many problems and scourges, as warning to mankind that something is terribly wrong. Yet these will be explained away as natural disasters by scientists, medicated away by doctors, or just ignored. Finally, Christ will come.
All of Sacred Scripture, all of world history, all of human experience, all of Satan's posturing--all testify through the ages that Christ is coming. Yet, to spiritually blind mankind, the day of the Lord will appear suddenly and unexpectedly, like "a thief in the night," as Saint Paul wrote. "For when they say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape" (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3).
Up until the last moment, people will behave as though this world would last forever. "Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They [the Sodomites] ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man revealed" (St. Luke 17:28-30).
In spite of the many admonitions, the world will never suspect its danger. Only those who treasure the words of the Lord Jesus Christ will be prepared: "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (St. Luke 21:34-36).
The Savior will not come from the earth or the sea, but from heaven, as the Angels assured His Apostles so long ago: "Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God" (Revelation 19:11-13).
In a blinding flash, the Lord will appear to a frightened world. He will be seen in the sky, that element which has so long been the realm of Satan. "For as the lightning comes from the east and fleshes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be," wrote Saint Matthew. "...Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His Angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (St. Matthew 24:27-31).
The sign of the Son of Man is, of course, the Cross. "The sign of the Cross shall be a terror to His foes," exclaims Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, "but joy to His friends who have believed in Him, or preached Him, or suffered for His sake."
Saint John Maximovitch explained that Christ's appearance will bring all people to a recognition of the truth. "And the Sign of the Son of God will appear: the Sign of the Cross. The whole world, having willingly submitted to Antichrist, will weep. Everything is finished forever: Antichrist killed; the end of his kingdom of warfare with Christ; the end, and one is held accountable; one must answer to the True God."
"At that time the whole earth will tremble," says the Apocalypse of Elijah. "The sun will be darkened. Peace will be removed from upon the earth and form under heaven... The sinners will cry out on the earth, saying, 'What have you done to us, lawless one, by saying, "I am the Christ," when you are the lawless one? And you have no power to save yourself, much less to save us. You performed vain marvels before us until you had made us strangers to the Christ Who created each one of us. Woe to us, because we listened to you! See, we are about to die in an evil manner and in affliction. ...Now we will be destroyed by wrath, because we disobeyed God.' ...Then the shameless one will weep...saying, 'Woe is me as well, because my time has passed!' "
Unlike Antichrist, who will have had to deceive mankind, and to use all the modern technology available to advance his cause, Christ's Second Advent will cause an immediate spiritual shock throughout the world. "It will not be necessary or possible for persons to communicate news of the coming of the Son of God," wrote Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov. "He will appear suddenly...to all men and to all the earth at the same time."
The Lord will descend to that very land from which he ascended before His disciples' astonished gaze so long before. He will repossess Jerusalem, Antichrist's capital, as her rightful Lord and King.
When He touches the Mount of Olives a tremendous earthquake will split the hill from east to west. "And in that day His [the Lord's] feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley" (Zechariah 14:4).
There will be a new heaven, a new earth, and a new humanity. Christ's Return will change everything!
(To be continued: New Heaven, New Earth)
Please note: It is spiritually profitable for all of us to meditate on the promise of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that He will come again, and as Orthodox Christians to be spiritually prepared. Just as we prepare for the coming celebration of His glorious Resurrection on the All-Holy Pascha Day, we must prepare spiritually, through repentance, through living a virtuous life, through fasting, through prayer, through reconciliation and with sincere humility and a contrite heart. We, Orthodox Christians, must live always, as the Christians in the early Church did, believing that His Coming could take place now, today!
When we begin to believe that His Second Coming would not happen in our lifetime, then, we postpone, or even fail to prepare for that awesome and fearful day of judgment. Let us not be caught unprepared in the last days for "perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away. For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:1-7).
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God