The Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
and 2nd Sunday before Advent when there are 26 Sundays in Trinity
An Homily of Basil the Great on False Prophets and the Elect
O GOD, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life; Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even as he is pure; that, when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
St. Matthew xxiv. 23
if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect
St. Matthew xxiv. 23THEN if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Homily of Basil the Great
I have thought it only right to announce to you by letter how I said to myself, when I heard of the trials brought upon you by the enemies of God, that in a time reckoned a time of peace you have won for yourselves the blessings promised to all who suffer persecution for the sake of the name of Christ. In my judgment the war that is waged against us by our fellow countrymen is the hardest to bear, because against open anti declared enemies it is easy to defend ourselves, while we are necessarily at the mercy of those who are associated with us, and are thus exposed to continual danger. This has been your case. Our fathers were persecuted, but by idolaters their substance was plundered, their houses were overthrown, they themselves were driven into exile, by our open enemies, for Christís nameís sake. The persecutors who have lately appeared, hate us no less than they, but, to the deceiving of many, they put forward the name of Christ, that the persecuted may be robbed of all comfort from its confession, because the majority of simpler folk, while admitting that we are being wronged, are unwilling to reckon our death for the truthís sake to be martyrdom. I am therefore persuaded that the reward in store for you from the righteous Judge is yet greater than that bestowed on those former martyrs. They indeed both had the public praise of men, and received the reward of God; to you, though your good deeds are not less, no honours are given by the people. It is only fair that the requital in store for you in the world to come should be far greater.
I exhort you, therefore, not to faint in your afflictions, but to be revived by Godís love, and to add daily to your zeal, knowing that in you ought to be preserved that remnant of true religion which the Lord will find when He cometh on the earth. Even if bishops are driven from their Churches, be not dismayed. If traitors have arisen from among the very clergy themselves, let not this undermine your confidence in God. We are saved not by names, but by mind and purpose, and genuine love toward our Creator. Bethink you how in the attack against our Lord, high priests and scribes and elders devised the plot, and how few of the people were found really receiving the word. Remember that it is not the multitude who are being saved, but the elect of God. Be not then affrighted at the great multitude of the people who are carried hither and thither by winds like the waters of the sea. If but one be saved, like Lot at Sodom, he ought to abide in right judgment, keeping his hope in Christ unshaken, for the Lord will not forsake His holy ones. Salute all the brethren in Christ from me. Pray earnestly for my miserable soul.
ĖSt. Basil the Great (330-379) [Hat tip: DT]