On Meat-Fare Sunday (2)

9 March 2021
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6. Do you see that those living for Christ are filled with inexpressible joy and courage over what will happen immediately after this, while those who live according to the flesh are filled with shame, pain and dejection? As Saint Paul declares: ‘God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil’ (Rom. 2, 6-9).

In the time of Noah, when sin had increased and held sway over almost the whole of the human race, God sent a flood which inundated almost every soul, only that righteous man being saved for the sake of the birth of another world (see Gen. 6, 5-9, 2). And after that, God partially curtailed rising wickedness, such as, for example, when he reduced the Sodomites to ashes (Gen. 19, 1-28), drowned Pharaoh’s army in the sea, and decimated the brazen race of the Jews with famine, revolt, disease and bitter punishments (Ex. 16, 1-3; 17, 1-4; 32, 1 ff.).

7. Our common physician, who, for the sake of our race, employed harsh medicines and remedies, did not,however, omit others that were pleasant and beneficial. He raised up fathers, revealed prophets, wrought signs, gave us the law of Moses and sent angels. And since these were powerless to counter the rising tide of evil, the Son of God himself bent down the heavens and came to earth as the greatest counter-measure to combat grave sins. Having become all things for us, though without sin, he abolished sin in himself. Thereafter he gave us the strength to dull its sting. On the Cross, he made a public example of the champions of sin and their cohorts, destroying, by his own death, him who had the power of death.

8. Just as he had inundated sinners with water at the time of Noah, so he later flooded sin with his righteousness and grace. He raised himself from death, as the seed and first-fruit of the eternal world, as an example and proof of it, with the certainty of our hoped-for resurrection. Once he had risen and ascended into heaven he sent apostles out into the world, gave us a whole host of martyrs, appointed a multitude of teachers and revealed assembled companies of saints. Even though he did everything necessary, without overlooking a single thing, he again saw evil on the rise, because of the independence of our free will. Or rather, it will be seen to be on the rise at the time when people venerate and submit to the Antichrist, abandoning the true God and his true Anointed One. This is when he will come again from heaven with great power and glory, not to be patient, but to punish those who, with their wicked actions stored up his wrath against them during the time when he was showing forbearance. He will cut away those who are incurable from those who are sound, and cast them into fire as rotten limbs. He will free his own people from the influence and company of wicked persons and will make them heirs of the kingdom of heaven.

9. Immediately after the outrageous audacity of the Antichrist, he who constructed everything will shake it all up, as the prophet said: ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also heaven (cf. Hag. 2, 21).He therefore immediately shakes the world, loosens the upper reaches of the universe, folds up the vault of heaven, mingles the earth with fire and throws all things into confusion. From below he prizes open the foundations of the world, we might say, while from above he sends a multitude of stars, like indescribable bolts of lightning, onto the heads of those who deified the evil one so that, thereby, those might be punished first for believing in the Antichrist, for devoting their minds to him and being persuaded that the opposite to God was God. Then, having appeared in ineffable glory, at the sound of a mighty trumpet he will bring everyone to life, as once he breathed his spirit into our forefather Adam. All those who had been dead for centuries will appear before him. The unrighteous will not be brought to judgement, nor will they be given the chance to speak. As the Scriptures say, the ungodly will be resurrected not for judgement but for condemnation (cf. Matth. 12, 41-42; Luke 11, 31-32).