Judgment Sunday

Today is Last Judgment Sunday in the Orthodox Church, where we read and chant on the account of the last judgment found in Matthew 25:

When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He shall sit on the throne of His glory. And all nations shall be gathered before Him. And He shall separate them from one another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. And indeed He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats off the left. Then the King shall say to those on His right hand , Come, 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 took Me in; 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 shall answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and fed You ? Or thirsty, and gave You drink? When did we see You a stranger, and took You in? Or naked, and clothed You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to You? And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you have done it to Me. Then He also shall say to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting 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 take Me in; I was naked, and you did not clothe Me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they will also answer Him, saying, 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 shall answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life.

This is one of those passages I don’t like to think too much about. It’s one of those “oh, drat!” passages that come into Scripture from time to time. Nor can I make much account of the teaching on it, having been distracted by guilt over turning little children away from my house last year when they asked to come in and have a cup of tea. As I recall, Fr. John’s homily was on humility, as it has been these past few weeks. He had been gone most of the week at a clergy conference where Father Zacharias, the spiritual son of Elder Sophrony, the spiritual son of Saint Silhoun (sp?) was the main speaker, and was also talking about humility. Mostly what I remember is that one ought to do acts of mercy toward others and not insist that they be recognized, even by God. But if it should happen that we find ourselves before Christ and deserving of judgment, we ought to acknowledge the truth of that and humbly ask for mercy, and as He is inconceivably gracious, He might offer it.

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