(Mathew 25: 31- 46)
“When the Son of Man shall come in His Glory”
The Saturday before this Sunday is specially consecrated to the commemoration of those faithful who has departed our world. There is an obvious link between this commemoration and the recalling of the last judgement, which is the principal theme for this Sunday.
In the same way as on the previous Sunday, fasting figures as a secondary theme in the liturgy of the day. This Sunday is called Meat-Fare Sunday, because it is the last day on which the consumption of meat is allowed by the Church. From the next day, Monday, we should, if we can, abstain from meat until Easter; on the other hand, we are allowed to use the other animal products (milk, eggs, butter, and cheese) throughout the week, including Wednesday and Friday. During the liturgy we read from St. Paul Epistle (1st Corinthian 8: 8- 13; and 9: 1-2) which teaches us the following: eating or not eating meat in itself is not a matter of importance, but this liberty which we have must not scandalise or be a stumbling block to the weak. A man who believes in the only God and does not believe in the reality of idols may, with a clear conscience, eat the flesh of beasts sacrificed for idols. But if one of his brothers is less enlightened and thinks that this means some sort of association with the worship of idols, and then he should abstain from doing this, and respect the conscience of those brothers for whom too, Christ died.
And so, if we are inspired by St. Paul’s idea, someone who feels he has valid reasons for not fasting will all be careful to avoid anything that might scandalise or offend the brothers.
The Gospel describes the last judgement: “when the Son of Man shall come in his Glory”. All the nations will be gathered before his throne. He will separate the sheep from the goats, setting the righteous on his right and the sinners on his left, he will invite those who have fed, clothed and visited him in his human guise of the poor, the prisoners and the sick, to enter the Kingdom of the Father.
Doubtless to say, this picture is symbolic. We pass judgement on ourselves when, voluntarly, we adhere to God or reject him. It is our love, a lack of it, which will place us among, the blessed or among those who are dismissed.
Christian love is the “possible impossible” to see Christ in every human being. For indeed, what is love if not mysterious power which transcends the accidental, and the external in the “other”, his physical appearance, social rank, ethnic origin, intellectual capacity, and reaches the soul, the real part of God in him. Christian love, here is the participation in that divine knowledge and the gift of that divine love.
The parable of this Sunday is about Christian love. Every man needs this “Christ” love. We also know that man is in prison, are sick, thirsty and hungry because of that personal love has been denied them. And finally, we know that every one of us has been made responsible for a Tiny Part of the Kingdom of God, made responsible by that very gift of Christ’s love. Thus, whether, or not we have accepted this responsibility or rather we have loved or refused to love, hall we be judged. “For inasmuch has you have done it unto one of the least of these of my brothers, you have done to me”.
If we do not want to interpret the parable literally, we must adhere carefully to what the saviour says about his presence in those who suffer, for it is in them alone that we are in anyway able to help the Lord. Many saying in the book encourage us to repent before it is too late. And the shadow side, the darkness into which a stubborn sinner chose to throw himself, must not make us forget the side of light and hope. Here is a phrase from the Vesper chants in which these aspects find themselves well united:
“ O my soul, the time is near at hand, make haste before it is too late, and cry aloud with faith: I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned against you, but I know your love and your compassion, O good shepherd”
Metropolitan Archbishop Paul
Primate of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines