Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Scriptures of the Triodion
Sunday of the Last Judgment
Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will place the sheep at His right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O 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 welcomed Me, 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 will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see Thee hungry and feed Thee, or thirsty and give Thee drink? And when did we see Thee a stranger and welcome Thee, or naked and clothe Thee? And when did we see Thee sick or in prison and visit Thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Then He will say to those at His left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, 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 no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see Thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to Thee?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to Me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25: 31-46 (Gospel Reading from the Sunday of the Last Judgment)
Good morning Prayer Team!
We know that the two great commandments are for us to love God and love our neighbor. Everything in the Christian faith and in the Holy Bible points to these things. Our judgment at the end of our lives before God’s Awesome Judgment Seat is going to be based on love. What does that mean?
First, there is a judgment. Jesus teaches very clearly in the Bible that when life on earth is over, each of us will face a judgment before the Throne of God. The soul of every person will live eternally, there is no question about that. The question is where the soul will spend eternity—will it be with God, in heaven? Or will it be separated from God, in hell? The judgment before God is going to be an examination of our faith and how we lived out our faith. And God, not us, will be the judge of how well we’ve done with each.
Second, the judgment will be based on some very specific acts of love—feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, visiting the sick and visiting those in prison. There is no question that parts of the Bible are difficult to interpret. But these verses are very straight-forward. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, your salvation is depending on it.
Third, both groups of people in this story were surprised by Christ’s assertion that is was HE who was hungry, thirsty, naked, a stranger, sick and in prison. The ones who had shown Him love wondered when they had seen Him. For them, showing love and compassion was almost natural. They would do it for anyone. Which is precisely the point that Christ made with them—if you do something good for the least of people, it is as if you are doing it for the Lord.
The ones who had failed to show love to Christ were also surprised. They said, essentially, that if they had known it was Christ, certainly they would have helped Him. However, for them, showing love and compassion were things that they didn’t do generously. I’m certain they would have shown love to Christ had He been in need. Christ said to them, if you fail to show love and mercy for the least of people, it is as if you are failing to do that for the Lord Himself.
The righteous went to eternal life and the others to eternal condemnation.
The questions for us to ponder today are, do we run to help and show love to our neighbors, even up to the “least” of them? And do we see Christ in our neighbors, even the least of them? The goal is to answer both questions as YES, by showing love to all and showing it on a regular basis. Our eternal standing depends on it.
When You come down to the earth, O God, in Your glory, all things will cower tremulous, and a river of fire will draw before Your Judgment Seat; the books shall be opened up, and public knowledge will things hidden be. Rescue me, then, I pray, from unquenchable fire, and count me worthy to stand at Your right hand, O You, the most righteous Judge. (Kontakion of Meat-fare Sunday, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Love your neighbor today!
Photo credit: Our Daily Bread
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