There is an old song that I grew up hearing which includes the phrase, “Saint Peter don’t you call me ‘cause I can’t go.” If you know the song, you know the reason the writer can’t die quite yet. It doesn’t really matter what reason we give, we all at live with this thought. We live no ready for Christ to come but come He will.
One of the many blessings we receive when we spend time each day in the Holy Scriptures, is that constant inspiration to put forth the effort for salvation. In today’s readings we receive gentle encouragement from Saint Paul, and stern warning from Christ. Neither were written with the idea they would be read together. In fact, the readings for today are merely the ‘next verses’ in the daily cycle of the Lectionary.
The point of the Orthodox Christian way of life isn’t to always get it right. It isn’t to always be perfect. It isn’t even to earn our way into heaven. All those things would be impossible. The point of our way of life is to love God enough to endure until the end with the hope He will embrace us into His Kingdom. This is why Saint Paul says, “So we do not lose heart.” Even the ‘great’ Saint Paul felt the burden of the struggle but he kept on keeping on. It is when we give up that we are in danger of falling away.
Then there is the natural tendency of putting off until tomorrow what we should be doing today. I say natural because we all do it. When we are young we feel invincible and take daring chances without regard to danger, not because we worried of being hurt. We just don’t expect to die, so why not? This is why Christ offers us the stern warning, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
What a blessed combination today in the Lectionary! Gentle encouragement from Saint Paul coupled with a stern warning from Christ. We need both because we can’t stop the clock. It won’t help to sing our woes to Saint Peter. When God gives the command, the trumpets will sound. Let’s not lost heart.
Brethren, since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, "I believed, and so I spoke," we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. – 2nd Corinthians 4.13-18
The Lord said to his disciples, "As the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man 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 out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. "From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. "Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed,' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." – Matthew 24:27-33, 42-51