Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Scriptures of the Triodion
First Saturday of Souls
Jesus said, “Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once. And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke 21: 8-9, 25-27, 33-36 (From the Gospel on the First Saturday of Souls)
Good morning Prayer Team!
The Gospel lessons of this weekend, both today and tomorrow, focus on the Second Coming of Christ. Today’s Gospel gives signs of the end of the world, while tomorrow’s will speak of the Last Judgment to be rendered on all people.
There are many people who obsess over whether we are in the end times. Some even prognosticate the date they think the world will end on. Then, there are those who don’t give the end of the world or the second coming a second thought. They are “weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life.”
I’ve always wondered if people would take things more seriously if we knew the end times were upon us. I mean, if you KNEW that today was your last day on earth, would you be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness or would you be clinging to family and faith? At the same time, I wonder if people have lulled themselves into thinking that the end times are at some far off time and so we live in complacency, putting off work indefinitely.
No one knows when the end times will come. Certainly it seems that many of the signs are upon us, but you could study history and see that at many junctures in history, it looked like the apocalypse was upon us and yet we continue on. One thing we know for certain is that our personal end time could come at any time. There is no guarantee that I will live to see next Christmas, this coming Pascha, or this coming Sunday.
So rather than look for signs of an end, we should live in constant readiness to meet God. This doesn’t mean constant fear, or fatalism, but readiness. We should make the most of today, taking every opportunity to pray, to love and to serve. We should engage in edifying activities so that if God comes for us today, He finds us doing something pleasing to Him.
Finally, we shouldn’t fall for signs or fads or gimmicks about Christianity. The Christian journey is one of steadiness and consistency, not flash or quickness. Steadily fight the good fight today, so that if today is the last day of the “race” for us, that we’ve kept the faith. (Paraphrased from II Timothy 4:7)
When I ponder in my wretchedness on the many terrible things I have done, I tremble for that fearful day, the Day of Judgment. But trusting in the mercy of Your compassion, like David I cry to You: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your great mercy.” (From the Orthros of Sundays of the Triodion)
Live for God TODAY!
Photo credit: Mark Shepard: Singer Songwriter
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