Sunday of the Last Judgment

Last Judgment. The Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy Last Judgment. The Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Today, on our preparation journey towards Lent, we have come to the ultimate stage: we are confronted with judgment. If we pay attention to it, next week our spiritual destiny will be in our own hands, because next week is the Sunday of Forgiveness.

The link between these two days is too obvious. If we only could become aware that each and everyone of us stand before the judgment of God and the judgment of men, if we could remember and realize profoundly, wholeheartedly, and earnestly that we are, all of us, indebted to each other, that we are all responsible to each other for some of the pain and the heaviness of life, then when we are asked to forgive we would find it easy not only to forgive, but in response to this request, to ask for forgiveness ourselves.

It is not only by what we do, not only by what we leave undone, but by this extraordinary lack of awareness of our responsibility, of what we could be to others and do for others, that we do not fulfill our human vocation. We could, and we should, on all levels and for all men, and beyond men for the whole world that is ours, be a blessing and a revelation of things so great, so deep that people, first of all we ourselves, could realize that we are on the scales of God Himself; that our vocation is not only to be morally good, but to be as great as God. A mystic of Germany said in one of his poems “I am as great as God, God is as small as I.”

If we only could remember this. This is why the judgment is not only a moment when we are confronted with the danger of condemnation; there is in the very notion of judgment something great and inspiring. We are not going to be judged according to human standards of behavior and decency. We are going to be judged according to standards that are beyond ordinary human life. We are going to be judged on the scales of God, and the scales of God are love: not love felt, not an emotional love, but love lived and accomplished. The fact that we are going to be judged, that indeed we are being judged all the time, above our means, beyond all our smallness, should reveal to us our potential greatness. And the parable that we have read today can be seen in those very terms: in His parable, Christ judges men on their humanity. Have these men been human or not? Have they known how to love—first in their hearts, but also in action, in their very deeds; because as Saint John the Theologian puts it, one who says that he loves God and does not love his neighbor actively and creatively is a liar. There is no love of God if it is not expressed in every detail of our relationship with men, with people and with each person.

And so, let us this week prepare ourselves for the final stage of our journey by asking ourselves in the face of this divine judgment, “Am I human? Am I human within myself, in my behavior—not my general attitude, but my ways: are they human? Is my life an expression of a fine, a thoughtful, perceptive, creative, and at times generous and a sacrificial love?” As the object of love is the test of this love, it must be my neighbor, for it is too easy to love God Who asks for nothing.

And if in the course of this week we find where we belong, we find both our shortcomings and the greatness of our vocation; if we make our peace with those to whom we are indebted, then when the time comes to forgive, when someone else will have made the same discovery, we will be able with joy to give peace and forgiveness out of a sense of responsibility, and the creative joy of repentance. Amen.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
Edited by


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