Yesterday’s gospel of the second coming (Matthew 25:31 – 45) gives a frightful yet imperious description by Christ as to the eschaton. Notice that Christ now returns, not as a babe in swaddling cloth as he did on the first occasion but rather in all his glory – he now comes as Kyrios to separate and judge us all.
Christ looks at our works. Notice that to those on the left and to those on the right the criteria for judgement are the same: have you fed me; have you given me drink; have you clothed me; have you visited me whilst I was a prisoner or sick and as stranger have you taken me in? To those welcomed in the kingdom our Lord will say to them that ” when you did it to one of the least of my brethren you did it for me”.
To those who are cast away, they are cast away because they were indifferent to the need of neighbour – even if they perceive themselves as “good Christians who are churched and pray regularly”. Accordingly, we deduce that “minding our own business” or “leaving it to others” is the short road to damnation and everlasting punishment. Do you see how strongly Christ sees himself as standing in the shoes of the other? Do you now begin to understand that we are all made in the image of God and rejecting or being indifferent to the other is the same as rejecting or being indifferent to God?
We are now in a period of self-examination and reflection. Not a cursory examination such as, ” I have not killed or stolen”, but a real examination that asks whether I have lived up to the love that Christ has shown within me for me. That becomes a far different question and a deeper introspection is required of us all. Now is the time to confess and repent.
If we take away anything from this reading it surely must be that the second judgement is not a question of if, but when, and when it does come: that fearful day!… When Christ looks to you and to me there will be nowhere to hide. Think and reflect upon that as we prepare ourselves for the great fast.
We, at St Nektarios, take this particular reading to heart, accordingly:
Do not forget – this Sunday evening is the Vespers of Forgiveness.The service will take place at the church of St Nektarios from 6 PM. All clergy will be present. All are welcome to attend this most wonderful Vesper service we reconcile ourselves to one another as we prepare for the Lenten fast.
Thought for the week: as we prepare ourselves for the coming fast let us reflect upon the following hymn from yesterday’s matins: “when I ponder in my wretchedness on the many terrible things that I have done, I tremble for that fearful day, the Day of Judgement. But trusting in the mercy of Your compassion, like David I cry to You, “have mercy on me, O God, according to Your great mercy.
Till next time.
Father John Athanasiou 0411 061 554