Judgment Sunday (Meatfare Sunday)
Today, as we draw closer to Great Lent, we are reminded of the awesome reality of the coming judgment, in which Jesus Christ comes in glory, together with all His angels. And He comes for the final judgment. Judgment is not only something that will happen at the end of time, for we are being judged at each moment of our lives. But there is a certain finality to the judgment that we hear of today, for it comes at the end of history and has a definitive character.
This judgment has a frightening quality, and we should not domesticate it too easily. It reminds us that life is serious and that what we do has consequences. But what we are judged on is not simply a list of actions that we may or may not have done, or rules that we may or may not have kept. Rather, the judgment involved here is directly concerned with our relationship with God and with one another. We will be judged on whether or not we recognised Jesus Christ in our neighbours, and especially in those in need.
Saint John Chrysostom notes that the rewards that await the blessed are those that the Father has prepared for them, while the curses that await the damned are not prepared for them by God, but rather by their own actions. God longs for us to be among the blessed, which is why He constantly reaches out to us, seeking to draw us to Himself. And what we will be judged on – or rather, what we judge ourselves on, for it is our own actions that judge us – is whether we respond to this love by recognising Him in those around us.
How easy are the things the Savior requires at our hands! He will not say on the Day of Judgment: ‘I was in prison, and you delivered me. I was sick, and you healed me’; but only this: that you visited me, that you came to me.
Saint John Chrysostom
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 25:31-46:
The Lord said, “When the Son of man comes in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”