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. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
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.” Matthew 25: 31-33 (Gospel on the Sunday of the Last Judgment)
Good morning Prayer Team!
One of the most memorable sermons I have ever heard was given by a priest at summer camp, and he entitled the sermon: “Then what?” The story goes like this:
A college senior was stressing out over final exams. So, he went to his priest for a little counsel and a prayer. The priest asked him why he was so stressed out. The senior said, he was stressed out over his upcoming finals. “It’s like the most important thing ever these finals. They will set the tone forever for me.”
The priest asked him, “Once you pass your finals, then what?”
The student answered, “I guess I will go and get a job.”
The priest asked “and then what?”
“Make lots of money.”
“Watch the children grow up.”
“Be a grandparent.”
“Retire and travel the world.”
“Well, eventually, I’ll probably get sick.”
“Then I’ll eventually die.”
“and THEN what?”
We are all going to die, and THEN, there will be a judgment before the Lord. Everyone who has ever lived, is going to be gathered before the Lord, and as a defendant before a judge, we will each be called upon to give an account of our lives.
And that accounting will be based on one thing: LOVE.
Did we love God? And did we love our neighbor?
In Matthew 25: 31-46, the Gospel we read on “The Sunday of the Last Judgement”, (also called “Meatfare Sunday”), the Lord is teaching the disciples about the judgment that will await all the peoples of all the nations. Everyone will be separated into two groups, the way a shepherd separates sheep from goats. This is an image that everyone at the time could understand—Jesus is the shepherd, and we are either in the flock (sheep) or we are out of the flock (goats).
The judgment, we are told, will be based on demonstrating love, to our neighbor. The righteous will be told: “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.” (Matthew 25: 35-36) And the condemned will be told: “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, I was naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” (Matthew 25: 42-43)
Remember the commandment to love GOD and love our neighbor? Jesus tells us that in loving our neighbor, we are showing our love for God. For He said “When you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40) and to the condemned “As you did it NOT to the least of these, you did it not to Me.” (Matthew 25:45). So in loving our neighbor, we show our love for God as well.
When life on earth is over, we will each stand before the Awesome Judgment Seat of Christ, and answer for our lives. And we will be judged ready for eternal life, or be sent to eternal punishment. That is the ultimate “Then what?”
O what an hour and fearful day shall that be, when the Judge shall sit upon His fearsome throne! Books will be opened, deeds will be checked, and the hidden works of darkness will be made public. Angels speed about, gathering all the nations. Come, hearken, kings and rulers, slaves and freemen, sinners and righteous, rich men and paupers, He is coming who is about to judge the whole world; and who shall bear His countenance, when angels are at hand to accuse your acts, your thoughts, your desires, be they of day or night? O what an hour that shall be! But before the end arrives, O soul, make haste to cry, “O God, convert me, save me as you alone are compassionate.” (From the Praises of the Sunday of the Last Judgment, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Show love today!
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