Throughout this day, the Lord explains ideas and secrets that the disciples had wondered about. According to the events narrated in the four gospels, the Lord starts the day by passing the fig tree that had been cursed the previous day. The tree was now dry to the roots. Peter says, “O Master, the fig tree You cursed has dried”. Jesus immediately answers “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:21).
Jesus spends the remainder of the day answering questions from His disciples, as well as from the Pharisees and Sadducees, who had come to trap Him through malicious questions. They ask if it is lawful to pay tribute to Caesar (Matt. 22:15-22). The Sadducees, who deny the resurrection, ask about the resurrection (Matt. 22:34-40). The Lord speaks about His Second Coming and Doomsday, warning us to keep watch and be ready, throughout the majority of the day. He tells the parable of the wicked vineyard keepers (Matt. 21:33-46), of the marriage of the king’s son (Matt. 22:1-14), of the temple falling into ruins (Matt. 24:1- 14), and of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1:13). After the day’s teaching, Jesus goes to Bethany to rest. Meanwhile, the high priests and the elders of the people plan His death (Matt. 26:1- 16).
On Tuesday, the Church stresses the Second Coming, the end of the world and the urge to get ready. This is the day our Savior lovingly invites us to keep watching with our lamps lit.
The first three hours invite the believers to unite with the Lord. Believers are urged to not forget His covenant, His judgments and His commandments that lead to eternal life. “I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.” (Josh. 2:9). This is the life promised in the Second Coming.
The prophecy of Joshua, on the Third Hour, stresses the importance of going through the narrow gate (as already attested on Monday), in order to obtain eternal life. The prophecy from I Kings tells how Israel erred and killed the prophets, causing our Savior to lament over Jerusalem. This is repeated in the Gospel of the hour, “O Jerusalem, you killed the Prophets…” (Mat. 23:37). The description of the ruin of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple is a pale image of the tribulations of the end of the world.
The readings show that the Kingdom is no longer the monopoly of a chosen nation or people. “…because Israel has not obtained what He seeks for; rather those who were chosen have obtained it” (Rom. 11:7). Furthermore, the Gospel according to St. Matthew tells us “The Kingdom of God shall be taken from (Israel), and given to a nation bringing forth fruits” (Matt. 21:43). The Lord opens paradise to people from any nation or language since they have kept the covenant.
The prophesy from Genesis 6:1 – 9:6 relates the story of the flood and Noah’s ark, and is explained in the Gospel of the Third Hour of Wednesday vigil. The Gospel tells us “before the flood, the sons of men used to eat, drink, and multiply until the day Noah entered the ark as ordered by God (Matt. 24:36). They knew not about the flood by which “every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the earth” (Gen. 7:23). In the same way, on His second coming, all will be taken by surprise. In the same way eight people only were spared by the flood. “Who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while [the] ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.” (I Peter 3:20). We must remember Jesus’ alarming words, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). This gospel is read on the First Hour of the evening.
The readings of the Psalm and the Gospel, in perfect accordance, are inspired by the Holy Spirit to illustrate God sitting in His glory to judge and reward each one according to his acts. Psalm 44 exclaims, “Your throne, o God…”(Psalm 44:6). The Gospel makes a similar exclamation, saying “…on the throne of Your glory” (Matt. 25:31). Psalm 41 gives us the promise, “…in the day of distress, God shall save him” (Psalm 41:1). The Gospel echoes this encouragement, “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did [it] to one of the least of these My brethren, you did to Me.’”(Matt. 25:40). The Psalms are sung as a beautiful symphony, glorifying the One seated on His throne.
Starting at the Eleventh Hour of Tuesday, we add “ My Good Savior” to “Thine is the glory…”. The Church wants us to realize that our Lord Jesus has specified the time of His crucifixion as we read the Gospel of that hour. “After two days is the feast of the Passover and the Son of Man shall be betrayed to be crucified” (Matt. 26:2).