The Sunday of the Last Judgment is the third Sunday of a three-week preparation period prior to the beginning of Great Lent. This Sunday is also called “Meatfare Sunday”, because it officially marks the last day for eating meat until Pascha.
The Holy Church designated this Sunday to help us adjust ourselves to gradually get ready to enter into the arena of Great Lent and start our spiritual journey towards the Lord’s resurrection.
The Biblical theme of this Sunday focuses on the second coming of Christ, His judgment to the quick and the dead and the criterion of this Judgment. (Matthew 25:31-46)
According to the biblical parable, Christ will divide the nations into two groups; the blessed ones (Matthew 25:34) and the damned ones (Matthew 25:41). Those who are called blessed will enter into the kingdom of God “prepared for you from the foundation of the world”, and those who are called damned will be sent into the “everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels”.
The biblical parable clearly states that ‘love’ is the criterion by-which we will be judge. It is our love for one another and for every human person that determines our status as blessed or as damned. Practically, this love is reflected in our ability to see Christ in every human person, whom God decided to bring into our life.
That being said, it is important to bear in mind that Christian love isn’t mere positive humanitarian emotions that motivate us to do good deeds and seize opportunities for practicing philanthropic work. Rather, Christian love proceeds from seeing Christ in the other human person; and seeing that human person as created on the image and likeness of God. Consequently, when we minister to others, help them or give them, we do it because of the personal love which is originated from the love of Christ to humanity.
In the light of the aforementioned points, the biblical parable of the last judgment clearly states that we will not be called blessed until we recognize the image of Christ in the other human person. We will not be called blessed until we realize that Christ is hungry with every hungry person; He is sick with the sick and He is needy with every needy person. This explains Christ’s statement “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40). We may not see Christ in person, but indirectly we offer our love to Him through the least of His brethren.
Our inability to see Christ in the other human person is the beginning of our journey to eternal condemnation; because when we neglect the other human person whom God brought in our life, we neglect Christ Himself.
Therefore, on the Sunday of the Last Judgment, the Church reminds us of the importance of the personal divine love of Christ and calls us to acquire that love and reflect it in deeds. It reminds us of the fact that we will be judged according to our love and only according to our love. That being said; it is not the quantity, but the quality of our good deeds that matters. One little good deed out of real love and a pure heart may save us, while all the good deeds of the world will not help us if done for the wrong reasons.
On the Sunday of the last judgment, we are invited to prepare ourselves for the second coming of Christ and the last judgment of the world to come. However, in anticipation of the final judgment of Christ, until then, every time we neglect the other human person and fail to recognize the image and likeness of God in others, we are passing judgment on ourselves. Every time we fail to minister and help those who need our help we pass judgment on ourselves. Every time we harden our hearts and withhold our love from others, we pass judgment on ourselves. Let us armor ourselves with divine love and wear the garment of humility and get ready to radiate the light of Christ and His love to one another so that we may become worthy to meet Christ in His second coming and hear Him say: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” Amen!
By Rev. Fr. Ayman Kfouf - Great Lent 2012Tags: sunday, theological, articles