In Our Own Day

From Commentary on the Diatesseron, 18.15-17 (ca. 370)

Christ said, “About that hour no one knows, neither the angels nor the Son. It is not for you to know times or moments.” He has kept these things hidden so that we may keep watch, each of us thinking that he will come in our own day. If he had revealed the time of his coming, his coming would have lost its savor; it would no longer be an object of yearning for the nations and the age in which it will be revealed. He promised that he would come but did not say when he would come, and so all generations and ages await him eagerly.

Though the Lord has established the signs of his coming, the time of their fulfillment has not been plainly revealed. These signs have come and gone with a multiplicity of change; more than that, they are still present. His final coming is like his first. A holy persons and prophets waited for him, thinking that he would reveal himself in their own day, so today each of the faithful longs to welcome him in our own day, because Christ has not made plain the day of his coming.

He has not made it plain for this reason especially, that no one may think that he whose power and dominion rule all numbers and times is ruled by fate and time. He described the signs of his coming; how could what he has himself decided be hidden from him? Therefore, he used these words to increase respect for the signs of his coming, so that from that day forward all generations and ages might think that he would come again in their own day.

Keep watch; when the body is asleep nature takes control of u, and what is done is not done by our will but by force, by the impulse of nature. When deep listlessness takes possession of the soul, for example, faintheartedness or melancholy, the enemy overpowers it and makes it do what it does not will. The force of nature, the enemy of the soul, is in control. When the Lord commanded us to be vigilant, he meant vigilance in both parts of ourselves: in the body, against the tendency to sleep; in the soul, against lethargy and timidity.

St. Ephrem of Edessa (ca. 306-373) was a deacon and theologian, one of the great hymnwriters of the ancient church, widely considered the most influential of the Syriac church fathers. He wrote numerous commentaries, sermons, and founded the School of Nisibis, the great intellectual center of the Syriac Church, and later set up a school in Edessa. He died while caring for victims of the plague there. His feast day is June 9 or 10 in the West, January 28 on the Byzantine calendar, and the 7th Saturday before Easter in the Syrian Orthodox Church.


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