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August 2, 2023

Homilies on the Symbol of Faith (The Nicene Creed) - The Second Coming of Christ (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

On the Symbol of Faith (The Nicene Creed)
The Second Coming of Christ
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
In the seventh article of the Symbol of Faith there is talk of the second coming of Christ, to judge people.

We confess:

"He will come again with glory to judge the living and dead. His Kingdom shall have no end," that is, "Christ will come again in glory, to judge the living and the dead and His Kingdom will be eternal, it will have no end."

In this article of the Symbol of Faith three great truths are recorded and confessed:

The first truth is that Christ will come again to the world, as He Himself said: "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him..." (Matt. 20:31 ). The same was confirmed by the angels on the day of Christ's Ascension: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).

This coming of Christ is opposed to His first coming. During the first coming of Christ, which was His incarnation, everything was done humbly, secretly for most, and was known only to the Panagia, Joseph, the Shepherds, the Magi. Christ was born in a cave in Bethlehem and grew up humbly in Nazareth without people understanding this great event. However, the second coming of Christ will be with great glory, since He will come with His angels, and all people will stand before Him to judge them.

The second coming of Christ will happen suddenly. No one knows when this great event will happen. After Christ's Resurrection, the Disciples asked Him: "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority" (Acts 1:6-7). This is what Christ said repeatedly to His listeners, as long as He interacted with them.

The second truth that is emphasized in this article is that His glorious coming will be combined with judgment, since He will judge all people, both those who will be alive then, but also those who will have died.

Christ's teaching about the Future Judgment is known, that people will be separated, and some will stand on His right and others on His left, and a dialogue will be held about whether or not they showed love to Christ's brethren. It is about the selfless love that is the result of dispassion. The righteous will then be distinguished for the virtue of self-restraint, since even then when Christ will praise them, they will not boast of their love. On the contrary, the sinners will express their self-justification, since at that terrible moment they will justify themselves, because they did not understand Him to be in the faces of the people who needed help.

While in the relevant passages of Holy Scripture the Future Judgment is presented with the image of the Court, so that it can be understood by the people, however in the patristic texts it is presented with the medical procedure. This means that Christ will appear in all His glory and those who have acquired spiritual eyes will see Him as Light, while others, who are spiritually blind, will feel His heat and burn.

According to Basil the Great, Saint Gregory the Theologian and many Fathers of the Church, light has two properties, illuminating and caustic, i.e. it illuminates and burns. Those who have eyes are enlightened and see, while those who do not have eyes feel the caustic energy of the Light. Saint Maximus the Confessor uses the example of clay and wax. If we put these two material elements under the sun's rays, the clay will harden, the wax will melt. Thus, the God-loving soul will feel the love of God, the material-loving soul will feel God as cruel. God will love everyone, but this love of God will be experienced differently for everyone, according to their spiritual state. Thus, the judgment of the people will take place.

The third truth emphasized in this article of the Symbol of Faith is that after the Judgment, during the Second Coming of Christ, the Kingdom of God will follow, which will be eternal, that is, it will have no end.

The phrase Kingdom of God is an image of tangible reality, it is the authority and power of the earthly king. It is a strong image to characterize the future glory, which began from now with the incarnation of the Son and Word of God.

However, Christ is King and Kingdom is the glory of His divinity. That is why Christ Himself began His work on earth, preaching: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). The Kingdom of God is approaching, it has come and it will come. The three Disciples of Christ on Mount Tabor saw the Kingdom of God, they partook of the Light of God. Thus, the Kingdom of God is uncreated and eternal, everlasting. Those who are united with Christ, according to different degrees, foreshadow from now the glory of the Kingdom of God. For them, the second coming of Christ will not be terrible, sad, but glorious, full of Grace and joy.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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