Gospel parables, an Orthodox commentary (Page 31 of 32)

By: Fr. Victor PotapovRead time: 215 mins16004 Hits

“Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to set down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of cometh at an hour when ye think not” (Luke 12:35-38).

Before telling this parable, the Lord uses another parable, the rich but imprudent man (Luke 12:16-21), to caution His apostles not to gather treasures for themselves on earth but to become rich in God. The man who becomes rich in God will appear at the final judgment with treasure to justify him and to open the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The parable servants awaiting the coming of their Lord, show us how Christ teaches us to live in a way rich in God, always ready to depart from this world and to stand at God’s judgment.

Our Christian life is waiting for this judgment of the Lord – both the preliminary judgment after our death, and the Last Judgment after the glorious Second Coming of Christ. Our waiting ought to be active and not to be passive. Christians are waiting not for “something” or “someone,” but for “the Owner,” “Bridegroom,” “Master of the house,” Who will come and recompense each according to his works. Vigilance and faithfulness to one’s Lord, Who is returning from the wedding, is rewarded by the blessedness of new life with Christ. In a word, “waiting” is service to God’s will, the fulfilling of His commandments, unceasing watchfulness.

The “burning lights” are diligent service to God while the light of Divine grace abides in our hearts. Venerable John Cassian says in this regard: “The grace of God always directs our will toward the good side; however, it requires or expects corresponding efforts from us also. Lest it give its gifts to the careless, it seeks out instances whereby it rouses us from cold carelessness; lest its munificent bestowal of gifts appear to be without reason, it gives them after our desire and labor. For all that, however, grace is always given as a gift, because it recompenses our small efforts with measureless munificence.” Venerable Isaac the Syrian expresses a similar thought: “To whatever extent a man draws nigh to God through his intent, to such an extent God also draws nigh to him through His gifts.”

The more we abide in God’s grace, the more we shall prepare for the last hour and God’s judgment. “Death resolves everything,” teaches Hierarch Theophan the Recluse. “After it comes the summation of life; and what thou acquirest, with that also be satisfied for all eternity. Thou hast acquired good – thy lot is good; thou hast acquired evil – thy lot is evil. This is as true as it is true that thou dost exist. And all this may be resolved this minute – now in this very minute in which thou art reading these lines, and then – the end of everything comes: a seal is placed on thine existence, which no one will any longer be able to take away. That is something to think about!?But one ought not wonder how little is thought about this. What a mystery is happening with us! We all know that death is near, that it is impossible to escape it; but meanwhile, almost no one at all thinks about it; and it will come suddenly and seize us. And what is more?even when one is seized by a mortal illness, he still does not think that the end has come” (Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, 172).

Let us take these words to heart. Let us gird up our loins, let us fill our lamps with oil and take care that they burn with a bright light. Let us be watchful, for the Lord is coming.

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