Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Being Prepared for the Coming of the Lord (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse

"The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night" (II Pet. 3:10). A thief in the night sneaks up when he is not expected. So will the day of the Lord also come when it is not expected. But when He that cometh is not expected, no preparations are made for meeting Him. Lest we allow such negligence, the Lord commanded: "Watch: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come" (Matt. 24:42). Meanwhile, what are we doing? Are we watching? Are we waiting? We must confess that we are not. Some at least await death, but scarcely anyone awaits the day of the Lord. And it is as if they are right. Our fathers and forefathers waited, but the day did not come. Since we do not see anything, why should we think that it will come in our days? Thus, we do not think; and do not wait. It will not be a wonder, if with such a disposition as ours, the day of the Lord falls upon us like a thief. We shall be like the inhabitants of a city which the head of the province promised to visit in the near future. They waited for him an hour, waited another, waited a day and then said, “I suppose he’s not coming,” and went home. But as soon as they departed and gave themselves over to sleep — he appeared. It will be the same with us — whether we are waiting or not, the day of the Lord will come, and it will come without warning. For the Lord said: "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away" (Mark 13:31). But is it not better to wait, lest we be caught by surprise? For we will not get off without paying.

- Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, February 3/February 16

What the Apostle directed us towards yesterday, the Gospel now suggests directly to us: "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time.… Watch ye therefore ... lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping" (Mark 13:33, 35–6). It is necessary to wait, and every instant to keep in mind that the Lord is about to appear and shine like lightning from one end of the universe to the other. It is thought by some that it is possible to replace this waiting upon the Lord with waiting for death. This is good, or at least this should be done. But awaiting the coming of the Lord is one thing, and awaiting death another. They lead to different thoughts, and to different feelings born under the impact of these different thoughts. Await the day of the Lord, when all will end in an irrevocable determination. After our death, time will still continue in an undecided state; but the day of the Lord will assign everything for eternal ages, and it will be sealed, so you cannot expect any changes. “I have been waiting,” you say. So wait longer, and continue to wait. “But this,” you say, “will poison all my joys.” It will not poison your joys — it will only drive away from your everyday life those joys that are illegitimately so-called. You will still rejoice, only in the Lord. It is possible to wait for the Lord with this joy; and if the Lord finds you in this joy, He will not call you to account, but will praise you.

- Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, February 4/February 17