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.
THE DAY OF THE LORD DRAWS NEAR
By Saint Gregory the Great (+540-603)
Our Lord and Redeemer, desiring to find us prepared, warns us of the evils that are to accompany the end of the world, so that He may keep us from the love of it. He makes known the disasters that will herald its approaching end, so that should we be unwilling to serve God in times of tranquility, we may be made fearful by these happenings, at least be anxious concerning the judgment now at hand.
For a little prior to this passage of the holy Gospel which you, my brethren, have just heard, the Lord forewarned us saying: "Nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famine, and pestilence, and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven" (St. Luke 21:10-11). Then having said certain other things in between, He adds this warning which you have just now heard: "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring" (St. Luke 21:25). From among all these things we now see that some have already come to pass; the other that now fill us with dread are to come in the future.
For we behold nation rising against nation, and their distress prevails upon the earth, more now in these our times than we have read of in history. You are aware of how frequently we have heard from other parts of the world that earthquakes have devastated innumerable cities. Pestilences we suffer without ceasing. Signs in the sun and moon and stars we have not yet clearly beheld: but that these are not far off we gather from the alteration of the heavens...
"...We tell you these things, dearest brethren, in order that your souls may awaken to an eagerness for security, and lest you become torpid in a security that is false, and become lax through ignorance of Christian truth, but rather that you may become solicitous, and that anxiety may strengthen you in doing good, reflecting on this which the voice of the Redeemer added: "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken" (St. Luke 10:26).
Whom else does the Lord call by the name of Powers of heaven unless the Angels, the Archangels, the Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, and Powers, who at the coming of the Just Judge will then appear visibly to our eyes, to the end that they may sternly exact an account of that which the Invisible Lawgiver now patiently suffers? Whereto is added: "And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (St. Luke21:27). As though He were openly to say: They shall see Him come in power and majesty to Whom, present in lowliness, they turned a deaf ear, and so the more sharply will they then feel His severity, the more they now refuse to humble their hearts before His patience.
Since these words were directed at the reprobate, He then turns to speak words of comfort to the elect. For He says: When these things come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads because your redemption draweth nigh. It is as if the Truth openly warns His Elect by saying: When the evils of this world mount up, when dread of the judgment is shown even by the trembling powers, lift up your heads, that is, be joyful in your hearts, because the world, of which you are not friends, is drawing to its end; the redemption you have been seeking is coming close. In Scripture, the head is often used for the soul, because as the members are ruled by the head, so thoughts are governed by the soul. To lift up your heads, therefore, means to raise the heart to the joys of the Heavenly Fatherland.
They, therefore, who love God, are bidden to be glad, and to rejoice, because of the end of the world; since soon they will meet Him Whom they love, and that is passing away which they have never loved. Far be it than from any of the faithful who desire to see God that they should grieve over the stricken world, which we must know will end in these catastrophes. For it is written: "Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (St. James 4:4). Who therefore does not rejoice at the approaching end of the world, testifies that he is its friend, and by this, he is revealed as an enemy of God. But let this be far from the faithful, far from the hearts of those who believe through their faith that there is another life, and who love it in very deed. Let them grieve over the ruin of the world who have planted the roots of their hearts deep in the love of it, who neither look for the life to come nor are even aware that it is. But we who have learned the joys of our heavenly home must hasten to it as speedily as we may. We should desire to go there with all haste and to arrive by the shortest way. And with what miseries does not the world urge us forward? What sorrows, what misfortune is there, that does not press upon us? What is this mortal life but a way? And what folly would it be, let you carefully consider, to be weary with the fatigue of the way, and yet not eager to finish the journey?
That this world is to be trodden on, and despised, our Redeemer then teaches us, by a timely similitude: "Behold the fig tree and all the trees: when they now shoot forth, ye see and know that summer is now at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand" (St. Luke 10:29-31). This is as if He were openly to say: as from the fruit on the trees you know that summer is near, so from the ruin of the world you may know that the Kingdom of God is likewise near. From which it may be truly gathered that the fruit of the world is ruin. To this end, it arises, that it may fall. To this end, it germinates, that whatever it has brought forth from seed will be consumed in disaster. But happily is the Kingdom of God compared to summer, because then the clouds of our sadness will pass away, and the days of our life shall be resplendent in the glory of the Eternal Sun. (Source: Orthodox Heritage)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God