Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Church

Second Coming of Christ

by Rev. Fr. Paulose T. Peter, New York

First Sunday after Feast of the Holy Cross

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” Mark 13:32-33.

The gist of this Sunday’s reading is the Second Coming of Christ or parousia which is a Greek term meaning ‘arrival’ or ‘coming.’ Though the common usage is ‘second coming,’ the phrase is missing in the New Testament. The word ‘second’ is omitted in the New Testament except by way of reference as seen in Hebrews 9:28. The idea of the Second Coming of Christ in Mark is also echoed in Matthew 24:36-51. One can identify about a hundred or so references pointing to the Second Coming of Christ in the Bible. Those references tell us the manner of His coming and how we should be prepared to receive Him rather than give us a time table for His arrival.

Jesus’ Second Coming is one of the foundations of Orthodox Christian spirituality. In Matthew’s version, Jesus will come again but “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matt. 24:36) The key words used by Mark in this Sunday’s reading are “Be on guard! Be alert!” and “keep watch.”

Unpredictability is the underlying theme here. We all agree that there is unpredictability in our lives. No matter how careful we are, things do happen without warning that change our lives upside down. We know that we are helpless when things get out of control. Yet, we also know that proper precautions and preparations will better equip us in unanticipated situations. The very fact that our lives are subject to change without notice calls us to be alert and watchful so that we are not caught unprepared. The same idea is projected by Mathew and Mark in our preparedness to receive Christ at His Second Coming. The life of Moses is a classic example to our own everyday lives.

Moses enjoyed all the comfort and luxury as a prince in the royal court of Egypt for the first forty years of his life. He was young and he had education, power and wealth (Acts 7:22-23). The fact that the rest of his life would be so radically different is hard to imagine. He spent the next 40 years of his life as a shepherd and herdsman (Acts 7:29-30). Moses probably thought at the age of eighty that he would live out his days as a shepherd but God had other plans for him. From the day he saw a burning bush on Mount Sinai, he went on to live another 40 years as a prophet, a law-giver, and a leader of a nation. Truly, he lived three lives in one lifetime, and even his last days were not exactly the way he had planned (Deut. 3:27).

Moses’ life teaches us that we must not be too quick to pronounce our lives as settled or done. Our lives may change at any time and the Lord may require from us things that we never anticipated. As Moses’ life illustrates, if the unpredictability in our lives force us to be cautious and prepared in our daily lives, how much more should we be on our guard and be alert for the Second Coming of Christ?

"No one knows about that day or hour”. God has His own time schedule. If Jesus was there on time her brother would not have died, complained the sister of Lazarus. We get frustrated when we do not get what we want when we want it. We are like the little boy who prayed ‘Lord, give me patience and I want it right now.’

Look at Moses’ life again. When he was a young man he killed an Egyptian and that was the right time for the Lord to use him to deliver Israel (Acts 7:23-25). He was bold and confident in the strength of his youth, and he was ready to take on the challenge. But that was not God's plan, and Moses had to flee to save his life. Years later, God called upon him to deliver Israel when he was old and weak. (Ex. 3:9-10) But by that time Moses was unwilling to take on that challenge.

We sometimes look at the way things unfold in our life, and we wonder if God knows what He is doing. Make no mistake; God knows what He is doing. In Moses’ case God accomplished His purpose using an 80 year old man. God, through Moses, proved to the world that it is His power that delivers and not that of the person he uses. God has his own exquisite timing. In our everyday lives, if things do not work according to our time table, how much more we be alert and on our guard to await the Second Coming of Christ of which no one knows the day or the hour except the Father?

Those who are on their guard keeping watch and be prepared for the Second Coming of Christ place their hope on the promise of God for a better life when our earthly life is over. Moses, during his earthly life, could not exactly fulfill all his wishes. He led the Israelites into the Promised Land but he himself was forbidden to enter. Though he could not enter the Promised Land in his life time he certainly did after his death. He appeared with Elijah at the transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor in the Promised Land many years after his death.

St. Mathew makes a beautiful comparison of the coming of the Son of Man to what happened in the days of Noah (Matt. 24:37). As there was but one ark in the days of Noah, there is but one way of salvation. The whole world was drowned under the flood of God’s wrath, except for those few souls who prepared themselves to go into the ark even when others made fun of them. Even so, the whole world shall be destroyed in the everlasting wrath of almighty God, except those blessed men and women who lead a life pleasing to God and be on their guard keeping watch to receive Jesus Christ at his Second Coming because "There is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved."

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