Homily: The Last Judgment

The Sunday of the Last Judgement
St. Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Corinthians 8:8-9:2
If you break the rules long enough, eventually you are going to suffer. Or, put another way, if you act stupid long enough, it will eventually catch up with you.
  • Bad Budgeting. If people insist on spending more than they make long enough, they will eventually run through all their savings and all the affordable debt and go bankrupt. They will suffer the consequences of their bad choices.
  • Unhealthy Habits. In general, if people mistreat their bodies, whether it is through things like smoking or doing drugs or overeating or maintaining an over-scheduled lifestyle, it will eventually catch up with them and they will get mentally or physically sick. They will suffer the consequences of their bad choices.
  • There are plenty of other examples. Each is based on the violation of certain “laws”.  The laws of economics and accounting describe the consequences of bad money management.  The laws of medicine describe the consequences of unhealthy habits.
The Law of Love
Some of these, are man-made and some are built into the world we live in. Today’s Gospel is meant to remind us that there is a law that is deeper than any of these. A law that is at the very foundation of everything that is. A law through which this world was given form. This law, this logic, this Logos, is love.
You have heard this so many times before. E.g. the “great commandments” to love God and love you neighbor. We are meant to live in unity with one another and with God. The way this is achieved and the expression of its realization is LOVE. As important as the laws of physics, medicine, and economics are, they pale in significance next to this one. And because it is so primal, so powerful, so utterly unavoidable, we should expect consequences when we act against it.
This is the point of today’s Gospel: God is telling us that our lives matter, that what we do has consequences. That He made this world to be perfected in love and that if we violate this logic, we will suffer. In the great judgement, only those who have dedicated themselves to love – love of God and love of neighbor – will be rewarded. And this judgment is not based on an evaluation of our feelings about God or our neighbors, but what we have actually done with our time, talents, and treasures.
When did we see you suffering and not help you?” 
“When you saw your neighbor suffering and did not help Him.”
Coming just before the beginning of Great Lent, this iGospel s meant to be a warning; a challenge for us to look at our lives, how we have spent our time, our talents, and our treasures and to repent of our idleness and rededicate ourselves to a life of love.
What would this look like? What would we do if we really loved our neighbor?
  • The most obvious is giving money, food, clothes and so on to alleviate our neighbor’s suffering. We can do this in so many ways. Our food pantry is not huge, but through it several families are able to make it just a little bit longer. More importantly, through it love is incarnated and creation rejoices.
  • Another is the way we treat our coworkers, friends, and adversaries in our communities. Are we generous and charitable in our dealings with them? Do we allow our time with them to become a witness to the transformative power of love – or the degenerating power of pride and apathy?
  • Another is less obvious, but no less real. Do we pray for the suffering people in this world? Do we join the Church as it prays for the suffering people in this world? This liturgy or “work of the people” is something everyone can do. Something that costs nothing but brings real results. It is, therefore, something that we all MUST do, or else we have “seen Him” and His suffering, and ignored Him.
In conclusion, love is more than a feeling or an idea. It is more, even, than a simple law or logic. The Law or Logic or Logos of Love became man. He is our Lord, Jesus Christ. If we are living in Him, then He is living in us. If He, the source of all love is in us, then everything we do – every breath we take and every move we make – is an expression of His perfect love. This, after all, is the real goal. Not to love because it we will suffer if we do not; not to love because we will be rewarded if we do, but to love because we have been transformed through Christ into love. This is achieved most mightily through our actions here and now: the Holy Eucharist is both the mechanism and the expression of our union with Christ; relating to today’s Gospel, it is the greatest way for us to end the suffering in our world. We participate in it not because we are scared of the judgement, or because we want some kind of spiritual pat on the back, but because – through Christ – we are being transformed into living gods of love.