This Sunday we hear the words of the Gospel of the Last Judgement from the Evangelist Matthew 25:31-36.
Through the parable of the Last Judgement Our Lord, Jesus Christ, teaches us that heaven and hell have to do with the fulfillment of each other’s physical and spiritual needs. As we seek to serve each other in His name and by His grace, or as we fail to do so, we experience degrees of true life or degrees of darkness – realities that become permanent beyond the grave. Christ has taught us both by example and teaching, that the main virtues of Christians are faithful obedience and loving service to God and to each other.
Often when this Sunday approaches, many ask the question, “How can the Lord of love and goodness be also the Lord of judgement?” The Fathers of the Church answer this question by saying that God is always a loving Father and remains a loving Father for everyone – both the righteous and the sinners. It has been said the, “Holy Trinity by nature shines like a spiritual sun-glowing with love, light and life”.
God you see does not cause judgement at any time. He doesn’t do something vengeful to evildoers nor does He prepare a place of punishment. God is love and by His very nature He cannot do what is evil, hateful or destructive to anyone.
Judgement and hell are spiritual conditions of sin and darkness. Judgement results when someone is separated from God who is the source of light and life. Judgement results when we willfully shut ourselves off from God’s redeeming love. To answer your question, there is judgement, both temporary and eternal, but we by our life’s actions judge ourselves. As St. Paul warns us, “Do not deceive yourselves…no one makes a fool of God. A person will reap exactly what he plants”. (Galatians 6:7).
God did not send His Son into the world to be its Judge, but to be its Savior. For it says, “Whoever believes in the Son is not judged; but whoever does not believe has already been judged”. (John 3:16-18).
This Sunday is also known as Meatfare Sunday because it is the last day before the Feast of Feasts, on which the eating of meat is allowed.
Next week is Cheesefare Sunday, when in addition to refraining from meat, we begin our fasting, according to the Church, from dairy products etc, thus ushering us into the more stricter discipline of Great and Holy Lent.
Remember fasting in whatever manner, must be undertaken willingly and not by compulsion. Fasting is not a kind of personal punishment for our sins. We cannot pay God back for our sins but we can only confess them to Him to receive forgiveness.
May God bless all of you with peace and tranquility in these trying times.