Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ: Glory to Jesus Christ!
"So stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour .... " (Matthew 25:13)
Usually we tend to think of the Bridegroom gospel from which this little quote comes only during the first three Matins Services of Holy Week; but we should consider its significance more often. It is a pivotal scripture filled with meaning for everyday life.
The early Church made the mistake of taking the Lord's warning about his Second Corning in much too literal a fashion. There is a much more subtle and psychological way to see these scriptures. Obviously, sitting on housetops waiting for the Second corning, which people have been doing since the Lord's time on this earth ended, was (and is) misguided. We are directed by him specifically not to do that, but to live each moment as if it were THE moment, because, in a real sense, every moment IS the moment of his corning.
The Lord comes to us every moment in the guise of silence and solitude, in the guise of our neighbor, and in the guise of the present. If we are not paying attention, then we will miss him. We need to stay awake all the time because he is coming to us now, not in some fantastical future, but at this present moment with all its baggage, good and bad.
The realization of his continual presence will one day break into the unconscious like a bolt of lightning and the only way to describe it properly is in apocalyptic terms. That is why Jesus used it in Matthew 25 for example. That event is called properly "Enlightenment" and is something that is entirely dependent on God's will and our internal state. There are many conditions that must be in place internally because such a thing can occur and it comes only when God sees that the time is perfect for us to receive it. ·
But what it boils down to in practical terms is this: live in a way that recognizes his presence at every moment; and there will be no surprise at all when he does return "in his glory with all his angels." And if an internal second coming, an "enlightenment" occurs, then we will be ready for that as well. There is no reason to fear a future Apocalypse because he is in us and around us and living through us all the time. There is every reason to watch diligently for the moment of our own awakening.
The second coming we need to watch for is the awakening of our soul to his presence. We cannot tell the day or the hour when this apocalyptic event will occur in the deepest level of our being, just as we cannot know that day and hour of his coming "in glory;" but we must be ready for it, watching and waiting. And the way to be ready for that final day, is to not worry about it, but to be completely immersed in the now. This makes so much more sense than sitting on house tops. It's way too hot right now for that anyway.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Antony Hughes