Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
This morning we continue with the Sundays of preparation for our beginning of the journey we all make during Great Lent. We began two Sundays ago with the time of preparation for the Great Fast with being reminded of the importance of humility for our journey as we heard the parable of the Publican and Pharisee. Then last Sunday with the parable of the Prodigal Son, we were reminded of how the Love of God is central to our making this journey. Now we come to the Sunday of the Last Judgment as we are now reminded the reason for this journey we soon will embark upon: that with humility and aware of the Love of God for us, we begin this journey of cleansing of soul and body not only to properly celebrate the coming Feast of Feasts but to prepare ourselves for the coming day of the Last Judgment. We prepare ourselves in this way so that on that terrible and awesome Day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns to judge the living and the dead, we may be found worthy to stand on the right hand with those who lived their lives responding to the Love of God by extending that Love to our fellow man.
Today in the hymns of this day and the readings we hear much about the fearsome nature of the Last Judgment and many look to this Day with fear and trembling. This is a necessary component of understanding what will transpire when our Lord Jesus Christ returns to judge the living and the dead the scrolls are opened and each person is judged before the Throne of Almighty God. It is necessary for us to understand and accept the finality which comes with the judgment that is passed as each person receives not only judgment on this day but their eternal reward on this Day. But there is something more that our commemoration of this Sunday of the Last Judgment brings to our minds this day.
Today in the Gospel Reading from Saint Matthew 25:31-46 we are all granted a glimpse into what will transpire at the Last Judgment when all mankind will stand before the Judgment Seat to give an account for how one lived their life. We hear very clearly in the Gospel this morning that it is how a person made the connection between the Love of God for all mankind and our care and love for our fellow man. We are reminded this day that it is not only belief in the Love of God for His creation that marks those that our Lord calls “the blessed of My Father” but it is those who have applied that faith in daily life in extending God’s Love to those around us who are in need. We are reminded today that we must not only believe in God but we must put that faith into practice in sharing with and ministering to those who are in need around us. This is what makes the difference between those on the right hand and those on the left hand: for it is how we have responded to our faith in God and how we have put our faith into practice that we are judged. Have we extended the Love that God has for us in provided grace and salvation to others or have we – like the man given one talent who hid it in the ground from another of our Lord’s parables- kept it hidden and in so doing not shared our faith in living that faith through daily practice.
In the words of our Lord in today’s Gospel as He outlines how each person is judged we are reminded that those who are judged righteous and worthy to inherit the kingdom, are those who have not only believed but have lived as true disciples of Christ. The righteous are not only those who have given lip service to believing but rather have not only believed but have practiced that belief in extending the mercy and love of God to their fellow man. This is what it means to be a disciple of our Lord and this is what we all are called to do in our lives if we wish to be judged to be among the righteous.
This morning as we reflect on the awesome and fearsome coming Day of the Last Judgment, we are afforded yet another opportunity to examine our lives and to ask ourselves this basic question: Have we lived our lives by practicing our faith in extending the love and mercy of God to those around us in need? Or have we squandered those opportunities in our daily lives to practice our faith because we were too busy to help those in need? As we reflect upon our lives in light of the coming Day of the Last Judgment, let us all ask God for His Mercy and Grace so that He may give us the strength and the willingness to practice our faith in sharing that faith with others by ministering to them and meeting their needs. In this way we truly are able to show that we have understood the true meaning of our faith in Jesus Christ- allowing our faith to shape and define how we live our lives each day and led us to meet the needs of those around us- those for whom our Lord suffered, died, was buried, and rose from the dead.
Father Paisius McGrath