Friday, April 3, 2020

Is the End of the World Imminent?

By Fr. Andreas Agathokleous

Those who read Holy Scripture know that Christ spoke clearly about His Second Coming, of what will come before and how it will take place. The same can be found in the epistles of the Apostles. But they are not mentioned systematically, rather they respond to problems and unnecessary behaviors, which stemmed from an anxiety about the closeness of the end. Both Christ and His disciples speak of the Second Coming as a pleasant anticipated event, though difficult events will precede, likened to the example of birth pangs which precede great joy.

The global crisis of the coronavirus has raised the question: "Are we on the verge of the Second Coming? Are we heading towards the end of the ages?" There is no simple and easy answer. Certainly there are many "signs" that show the "harvest is near", such as wars, sicknesses, disorder, the coldness of love, widespread disbelief, etc. However, no one can say for sure that the Second Coming will take place in our days.

The Lord exhorted us to beware of "false christs" and "false prophets" who will try to mislead "if it is possible even the elect." It is easy, under current conditions and the media, to mislead someone, especially when they trust people they do not know closely. Fear, which is brought on by their words in people's souls, abolishes freedom as well as a calm knowledge of the situation.

The Church of Christ, which cultivates morality, seriousness and freedom, emphasizes not the unpleasant things that will precede, but the result. What significance can there be to what will take place before, compared to the coming "in glory" of the Victor of death, which will bring about the incorruptibility of the universe, the resurrection of the dead, and the endless joy?

Fear, anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, and despair, as evoked by the wicked spirit, create unrest and drive away peace. The Christian knows that his course is full of trials and temptations both small and great. After all, he lives them! "No one has ascended to heaven with ease," the Holy Fathers assure us. However, devoted "to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith" (Heb. 12:2), he relies on His grace and help and proceeds along the path of "his sad life" with joy and hope.

The believer who unites with Christ through prayer, the mysteries and the observance of His commandments, acquires the power of His Cross and Resurrection, not psychologically, but really. He lives joy and peace as gifts which are a result of his existential union with Him, so he lives them firmly.

What does it matter whether or not the Second Coming will take place today, since the death of each of us will be the "end of our story"?

The "Come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20) with which Holy Scripture ends in the Apocalypse of John, should it not be the expectation and anticipation of every believer who is on the path towards the eternal day of their Lord?

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.