My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUIR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE SECOND COMING (PAROUSIA) OF CHRIST
The Orthodox Christian understanding of the Second Coming (Theftera Parousia) of Christ is clear: the Lord Jesus Christ truly will return. His Second Advent is not a myth, nor an empty promise, nor is it a metaphor. In fact, each time the Divine Liturgy is celebrated, the priest makes a proclamation to the Father which reveals how the Church responds not only to the Second Coming of Christ, but all of His work.
"Remembering this saving commandment [Jesus' command to eat His Body and drink His Blood] and all that has been done for us...the Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into Heaven, the sitting at the right hand of the Father and the Second and glorious Coming -- we offer You Your own, from what is your own, on behalf of all and for all."
Orthodox Christians also believe the New Testament revelation of the Second Coming of Christ is meant to stimulate our preparation for it, not our speculation about it. This explains the relative simplicity with which the Nicene Creed, the most universal Confession of faith I all of Christendom, addresses Christ's return:
"He...will come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead, whose Kingdom shall have no end." The emphasis of historic Orthodoxy is that Jesus will come again, not when He will come again."
Thus, Saint Paul the Apostle writes, "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works" (Saint Titus 2:12-14).
All of the events that are linked to the Second Coming of Christ are called "eschatological" because they pertain to the last things, the ultimate day; in other words, they pertain to the events that will take place after the present world has come to its end. We usually refer to "the end of history", but this does not fully express the reality of matters, given that History is not strictly confirmed to historical events, but also embraces the lives of the Saints. The lives of the Saints after death, as well as the lives of the people after the Second Coming of Christ, do not constitute a so-called meta-historical era; they too are regarded as part of a historical era; it is the history of the Saints.
Just as the world will not be destroyed altogether but will be renovated, so will mankind not be annihilated but transformed; and History likewise will also never cease, but merely change its content and its life.
Thus, whenever we refer to eschatolgical events, we mainly refer to all things that will take place during the Second Coming of Christ, when He will be passing judgment on mankind. Therefore although we may be waiting for those eschatological events, we can nevertheless say that - from the aspect of our way of living - the "final times" are already present, given that Saints are already savoring the Kingdom of God, from this lifetime. As we shall see further along, the saintly persons are already given a foretaste of all things that are to be revealed during the so-called "end time." Temporally speaking, we may be awaiting the eschatological events, but modally, they arrive and are experienced, by Saints.
We shall preoccupy ourselves here with three specific topics that are linked to the eschatological events that have to do with Christ's Second Coming. First of all, we shall take a general look at Christ's Second Coming; secondly, we shall set out the theological truth behind the resurrection of our bodies and thirdly, we shall examine the events pertaining to God's Judgment, which are linked to both the Coming of Christ and the bodily resurrection of Man.
The Glorious Coming of Christ
Throughout all the Biblical-Patristic Tradition, it is stated that Christ will come once again to this world, this time to judge mankind. This is a fact that cannot be doubted by Christians. Christ Himself - in the excerpt referring to the Coming Judgment Day - speaks of His new and glorious Arrival. He says: "...when the Son of man comes, in all His glory..." (St. Matthew 25:31). The word "when" is not a hypothetical term; it is a temporal one, which implies that there is a time when Christ will come to this world once again, and in fact with immense glory. And elsewhere, Christ said: "... and then they shall behold the son of man, arriving in clouds..." (St. Mark 13:26).
In the Acts of the Apostles, where Christ's Ascension is recorded, it is said that the Angels had remarked to the astonished Disciples: "...men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing toward the heavens? This Jesus, who was swept away from you up to the heavens, will come in the same manner that you had seen Him heading toward the heavens..." (Acts 1:11). The manner in which He rose to the heavens will therefore be the same one, when He returns to earth.
The holy Apostle Paul teaches us that those who will be alive at the time of arrival of the Son of Man - and in fact those who are righteous -- will be seized "within clouds, to encounter the Lord in the air..." (1 Thess. 4:17). And it is also written in the Book of Revelation that: "...behold, He comes with the clouds, and every eye shall behold Him..." (Rev. 1:7). Christ will come to earth to judge mankind, when the end of this world comes, along with the beginning of the new life. That is the reason the Creed includes the confession: "...and coming once again in glory; to judge the living and the dead, Whose Kingdom is never-ending."
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God