Bulletin 217 - February 17/March 2, 2003
February 17/March 2, 2003
When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy 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 them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, "Come, you 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 took Me in; 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, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me' Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting 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 take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' Then they also will answer Him, saying 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You? Then He will answer them, saying 'Assuredly, I say to you, in asmuch 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 everlasting punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
The Last Judgement is coming. The present Gospel message reminds us once again of the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we are baptized, we recite the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. We express very clearly the belief in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Each day is to be used for the preparation of Christ's Second Coming. We may not spend much time conscious of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Whether we keep the Second Coming in our consciousness or not, Christ will come.
We put ourselves in peril if we do not prepare as best we can for the Second Coming. The present Gospel gives us instructions on the best way to prepare.
The present Gospel reveals the importance Jesus Christ places on caring for the sick, the suffering, the imprisoned, the hungry, the needy and the imprisoned.
Orthodox Christians have a responsibility to be good to the stranger, the needy, the imprisoned, the sick, the suffering and the hungry. Jesus Christ is identified with these individuals as is very clearly stated in this Gospel message.
Blessed Theophylact says: "The robber is he who has much and does not give alms, even if he does no obvious injury. For whatever he has in excess of his needs, he has stolen from those who are in need and who have not received anything from him."1
We are required to take a hard look at ourselves in light of the present Gospel. We are required to be honest before God. We are required to examine our hearts and assess the degree to which we meet the standards set in the present Gospel.
We do not fool God. God knows very well if we meet the standards set in the present Gospel. God knows if we are good to the stranger, helpful to the sick and suffering, nourishing to the hungry and give to the person who is thirsty. God knows if we are attentive to the imprisoned.
Each day of our lives, we accumulate a record with God. We have the opportunity to improve our standing with God if we fall to our knees and repent. We have the opportunity to improve our standing with God if we are sorry for our sins and clearly want to be united with Christ and live the life in Christ.
We cannot go back and redo what has been done. We can begin anew in Christ. We can confess our sins. We can repent of our sins. We can be good to the stranger. We can be good to the hungry and the thirsty. We can care for the sick. We can be mindful of the imprisoned. We can put our lives to good use according to the Holy Gospel.
Every person has different skills and talents. Every person can make a Christian contribution to the community.
The present Gospel reveals the presence of Jesus Christ in the sick, the suffering, the imprisoned, the stranger, the hungry and the thirsty. The present Gospel reveals that Jesus Christ is present always, in every century.
Christ is bigger than we will ever comprehend. Christ is more than we will ever comprehend.
The present Gospel requires us to look at ourselves and to look at Christ. When we measure ourselves according to the present Gospel, we have the opportunity to try to do better.
The present Gospel speaks of eternal life and everlasting punishment. There is no time to be lukewarm. There is peril in being lukewarm. (Rev.3:16)
We grow in Christ by serving Christ, by praying to Christ, by living the life described by Christ. We grow in Christ by fasting and prayer, by partaking of the Holy Sacraments.
We grow in Christ by serving the people mentioned in the present Gospel message. The Church has a social ministry. The social ministry of the Church is carried out in organized form and in the actions of each individual.
We need to be conscious of our actions. The precious Body and Blood of Christ is nourishment. The precious Body and Blood of Christ unites us with Christ. The precious Body and Blood of Christ strengthens us for good works.
Let us measure every moment of life and treat each moment with great care. Eternal life and everlasting punishment are the alternatives we face. May we choose Christ, to serve Christ, to minister to Christ as set forth in the present Gospel.
Abba Paul said: "Keep close to Jesus."2 The present Gospel tells us where we meet Jesus in daily life. We cannot afford to ignore Him. We must love Him and serve Him.
1The Explanation by Blessed Theophylact of the Holy Gospel According to St.Matthew.
Chrysostom Press, House Springs, Missouri, 1992.
2The Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Translated by Benedicta Ward. Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1984, p.205