THE LORD SAID, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the Throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will put the sheep at His right hand and the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at His right hand, 'Come, you that are 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 something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you gave Me clothing, I was sick and you took care of Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.'
"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink? And when was it that we saw You a stranger and welcomed You, or naked and gave You clothing? And when was it that we saw You sick or in prison and visited You?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.'
"Then He will say to those at His left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from Me 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 nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not give Me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'
"Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of You?' Then He will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
As we continue our preparation for the season of preparation that is called the Great Lent, we are offered an above description of the end. The end after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when "He will sit on the Throne of His glory" to judge everyone.
We can only imagine or fantasize what exactly this judgment will look like. What Christ is offering here is that people will be divided into two groups - the saved and the condemned. Does God really want to condemn people? I doubt. But I also do not know what God wants because, thankfully, I am not God. What we have is what we are told, and we are free to do with it whatever we want.
So, let's look according to which principle we will be judged. The Lord is kind of clear on that - how we act and react to others. How about going to church on Sundays, fasting, praying, not cursing, trying to quit addictions, giving money to the church, Parish Council meetings, trying to maintain our deteriorating buildings, fussing over some ethnical customs, etc.? Will they count for nothing?
All of these things matter, but in as much as they help us to become kind and compassionate to those around us. All of these things can help us become better human beings or become jerks. It is possible to go to church all your life and still hate and despise your neighbor...who does not do recycling as well as you do.
One of the basic teachings of the Church that we have from Christ is that everyone is created in the image of God. Therefore, any time I neglect, belittle, or abuse another person, I am doing those things to God Himself. Do I have to be a Christian, or even a religious person, to realize this? Probably not, but I've been only on one side of the aisle.
Our Christian way of living is meant to push us towards compassion. If I do not feel very loving, or if I avoid helping others, then, very simply, I am not a Christian. I once read something that went like this, "I screamed at God for every starving child, until I realized that every starving child was God screaming at me." So stop making excuses and figure out how you can be a better person towards others today.
For last year's reflection, click here.
Yours in the Lord,
Father Aleksey - your friendly Singac priest