Homily – The Last Judgment

There are broken and despairing people in this world; it is our charge to care for them. We can justify our indifference with all kinds of religion and sophistry, but in the end our deeds will be laid bare. Homily on the Last Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46).
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Homily on the Last Judgment
St. Matthew 25: 31-46

There will be a Judgment. The God-man Jesus Christ is telling us this in today’s Gospel. If we have created another Gospel in our hearts and minds that disputes this, then we have created a new and false Christ. And while we can build a new religion around such a fantasy, it is not true and it cannot save.

There are standards for this Judgment, and those who fail to meet those standards will be condemned. Again, there is no way around this – God says it with His own lips, and He has no lies in Him.

So what is the criterion for Judgment? We have heard it so many times before! In order to be saved, Christ tells us that we have to

love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “love thy neighbour as thyself.” (St. Matthew 22:35-37)

Sounds easy, right? But we don’t do it. We often THINK we are doing it, but it’s obvious to God and anyone with eyes to see that we aren’t. So Christ has to explain it again to us, telling us that when we do not take care of “the least of these” that we do not take care of Him.

The conditions He gives us today: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, give clothes to the naked… are things that the person who has been transformed by Christ into a vessel of His infinite love DOES NATURALLY, WITHOUT HESITATION, AND WITHOUT RESERVATION.

It is the way of Christ for Him to sacrifice for the good of others… it is our fallen instinct to sacrifice only for the good of ourselves, or perhaps of those we feel close to.

This is why it is so important that we repent, let go of our feelings and opinions about what is right, and allow Christ to grow within our hearts and for His way to become our way.

Because without Christ, what we call “love” is likely to be self-serving and muddle-headed. We think of “love” as a feeling, but it isn’t. It is a way of life that is lived in complete fellowship with God and is given to the service of others and our union with them.

In the end, it’s not really about the rules, it’s about a certain way of life, about having a certain way of thinking and living. If you want to think of the judgement as a test, fine – but know this: the only way you can pass is to have the Christ who desires to live within the heart and mind of every human being – take the test for you. Two things are going to happen at the Judgment Day: the deeds of all will be laid bare, and the heart of everyone will be revealed (illumined by the Sun of Righteousness).

If we have given our lives to Christ and have learned to ignore our pride and listen to him; if we have gradually learned to allow his wisdom rather than our own egos to direct us; then we will have naturally and automatically done all the things that love requires and it will be His sacrifice and His wisdom that allow us to gather on His right hand. Remember that those whom the Lord commends in this parable were surprised to hear that they had earned such a great inheritance! It is not just good works, but humility that is associated with the true Christian life.

This is what Saint Paul meant when he wrote in the Spirit;

Salvation does not come from you but by grace; it is the gift of God and not the result of your actions, to put a stop to all boasting. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. (2 Corinthians 11:30)

Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which[a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.(Galatians 6:14)

If we have lived a life of self-justification, if we have been reserved in our commitment to God and to His people, then we will have only cultivated our own pride, no matter how much religion and allegedly “good deeds” we dress it up in. Religion, our egos, and the wisdom of the world will give us plenty of words to excuse ourselves – “where were you when we refused to help you!?” (Didn’t I pay my dues? Didn’t I say my prayers? Didn’t I send my kids to the best schools? Didn’t I identify with the right causes? Didn’t I vote for the right people? Didn’t I … Didn’t I…). Can you see how even the things we thought we did well will only further the evidence of our own damnation? How justification is an indicator not of wisdom, but of fallen pride?

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.
For people will love only themselves …
They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could actually make them godly. (2 Timothy 3:1, 2a, 5a)

If you want a gauge of how you are doing, look at how you react to criticism and righteous judgment; does it wound your ego? Do you get puffed up and automatically switch into lawyer mode? Or do you react with peaceful introspection to see the wisdom in the accusations?

Forgive us Lord for our arrogance and justification. We open our hearts to you. Direct us according to your will. Let our partaking of your holy Body and Blood this morning be the start of our new life lived in you.