Behold, the Bridegroom cometh in the middle of the night, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching, but unworthy is he whom He shall find in slothfulness. Beware, therefore, O my soul, and be not overcome by sleep; lest thou be given over to death, and shut out from the kingdom. But return to soberness and cry aloud: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, O God; through the Theotokos, have mercy on us.
From Bishop Nikolaj:
“The kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish” (Matt. 25:1-2). Then! Then the Kingdom of Heaven will not be like a seed which the Sower plants and the seed grows and brings fruit. Then there will be no time to plant nor to wait. Nor will the Kingdom of Heaven then be like leaven which is placed in dough and we wait for it all to become leavened. Then there will be no waiting. Nor will the Kingdom of Heaven be like a pearl which the merchant seeks. Then there will be no seeking nor waiting to find. Nor will the kingdom of Heaven be like a dragnet that is cast into the sea for the gathering of some of every kind. For there, too, is waiting. But then there will be no waiting. For, “then the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the power of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven…and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24).
The Kingdom of Heaven can no longer be as it was in other parables and comparisons but will be like the ten virgins who fall asleep until they are awakened in the middle of the night with the cry: “Behold, the bridegroom comes!” Sleep here is understood as death. As the number ten here symbolizes the fullness of numbers, with the ten sleeping virgins we can understand all the deceased before the coming of the Judge. All will awake, therefore, both the wise and the foolish. For the cry will be great and frightening: “Behold the Bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him”! Truly there has not been a more frightening thunder and crash than the echo of the trumpet of the Angels! The earth will shake from that thundering and crash and cry and echo, the sea will toss to and fro, all of man’s buildings will crush to dust and ashes. But this crashing and thundering will not be for the sake of confusing nature and for the destruction of man’s and God’s deeds – no, that is incidental and secondary – but the goal of that thundering and crashing will be to awaken the dead in the tombs.