Sunday of the Last Judgement
Anthony Bloom (Metropolitan of Sourozh (1914- 2003)
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Today’s parable is particularly important in our days when suffering, misery, hunger, homelessness, illness, death are increasing by the hour. We are told that when the Day of Judgement comes, those who will stand before God – and those are all of us – will not be asked about their creed, about their theological knowledge, about their theoretical convictions. They will be asked direct and concrete questions, that can be summed up in one: have you been human, or not? Have you had compassion on those who needed compassion? Have you had forgiveness for those who needed forgiveness?
There is another passage in the Gospel in which we are told that it is not those who have spent their time in churches worshipping God and praising Him, but those who have fulfilled the commandments of Christ. And all the commandments may be summed up only in one: love. ‘Love one another as I have loved you,’ with a love which is total, which is complete, a love which is not sentimental, but a love which is a gift of self, a sacrificial love, a love in which we give our own selves to our neighbour, even at the cost of our lives, not to speak of the cost of our goods. And this is something which is so important.
But the Judgement is with us day in and day out, preparing itself to shine out with terrifying clarity, because day in and day out our conscience says to us that we were right or wrong; that we have behaved in a way worthy of our name of a Christian, worthy of a disciple of Christ, worthy of our own selves. Day in and day out, whatever we say to one another, whatever we do, this question stands before us. What I have been doing, what I have said: is it worthy of God? Is it worthy of myself?
And the day will come when we will stand before God, and He will not ask anything. He will look at us with infinite compassion and pain, and we will then realise that we are in the presence of the One who was for us the Way, who was the Truth, who could be Life; and we have rejected Him as our way of living, as the truth of life; and can we count on life? It is a terrible moment when we come into the presence of one whom we have deeply hurt and suddenly realise how deep the hurt was. But when we will stand before Christ we will see Him whom every act of ours which is unworthy of our own selves, of the faith which we profess, of Christ whom we call our Lord and our God – every unworthy word or action is like a nail which we have put into Christ crucified.
Let us reflect on that. One day we will stand before Him. He will meet us with His infinite love, but looking at Him we will see that He has been our victim throughout life in the person of every one whom He loved and whom we have neglected, humiliated, rejected, allowed or caused to suffer. And how terrible it will be at that moment to look at Him and know that there is no anger, no hatred in Him, but deep, deep pain. Let us think of that, and remember today’s commandment: if you want to be divine, first be truly human. Amen.