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Choose Here and Now to Love in Action the Least Your Midst

A Homily for Matthew 25.31-46 (The Last Judgement)


 

Glory to Jesus Christ.

Today’s gospel at the end of chapter 25 of the

Gospel of Saint Matthew concludes the teachings of Jesus before he

enters into Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Holy Sabbath and the

Resurrection. Jesus’ teaching had started with the Beatitudes in

chapter 5: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom

of heaven… Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…

Blessed are the merciful….” and concluded: “Rejoice and be glad, for

your reward will be great in heaven.” In the middle of Jesus’

teachings, in chapter 16 of Matthew, Jesus becomes more precise:

"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross,

and follow me. Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but

whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” And He adds: “For

the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and

repay everyone according to his conduct.” Shortly after, in chapter

19, Jesus adds: "in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his

throne of glory… everyone who has given up houses or brothers or

sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my

name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life.”

It is no surprise to hear today: "When the Son of Man comes in his

glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious

throne… he will separate as a shepherd separates the sheep from the

goats.” Indeed, Jesus’ teaching has put before us the choice: do we

want a unique future? a separated path leading us up to Heaven? …

separated from the doomed path which the sinner takes. The choice is

proposed all along and becomes very precise today: choose here and now

to love in action the least one in your midst, “whatever you do to one

of the least of my brothers, you do it to me.” Encounter with

salvation, separation to inherit the Kingdom of God, comes through

personal love in action for the brother or sister in need whoever he

or she be. This gospel was picked by Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her

Missionaries of Charity, and by Dorothy Day and her Catholic Workers

as the defining text of their mission,… Does this mean that we are

called to join today the Missionaries of Charity or the Catholic

Workers or their like… they are indeed doing wonderful work all over

the world today? Nothing indicates that following a rule, saves… not

even following the beautiful rule of the Monks of Mount Tabor

Monastery… nothing indicates that following our liturgical calendar,

being faithful to the Sunday Divine Liturgy and the Lenten fast saves.

You and I are in error when we single out outstanding qualities of

monks, or of anyone of us here present today… and say: “he is fit for

the Kingdom or she is fit for the Kingdom”. The only decisive choice

that saves us is an act of personal love given to the least, an act of

personal love for my brother or sister without even seeing that I am

attending to Jesus, so that I can genuinely question: have I or not

been attending to Jesus? Zeal for our beautiful monastic rule, our

wonderful liturgical calendar, faithfulness to the Sunday Divine

Liturgy and the Lenten fast… are side aids for which we are to be

grateful, they are given to awaken us to the necessity of the one

decisive choice to be saved. Here and now, I have nothing outstanding,

I am an earthly being full of failings, and my brother or sister may

have nothing outstanding to attract me, but I, unworthy, can engage in

a simple personal love to his or her need, with purity of heart, and I

will be surprised to hear Jesus say that I am attending to Him. I will

be surprised to discover how meaningful becomes my prayer and other

observances. Let me be ready at all times to attend to the need of a

non-outstanding brother or sister. Let me be on guard not to end up a

goat among the sheep. Our great pastor wants to gather his sheep into

his kingdom prepared before the creation of the world. Will we make

the one decisive choice to which we are invited? The full Lenten fast

is now approaching. Today is the last day in our oriental catholic

tradition in which we eat meat. Starting tomorrow Monday, we still

take dairy products, and starting Monday, a week from tomorrow, we eat

no more animal products till the Easter celebration of the

Resurrection of Jesus. We continue to invite you each Sunday to

prolong the Divine Liturgy in the Temple with a festive meal in the

refectory. We are happy for your contributions to the main course, but

during Lent we invite you to bring vegetarian dishes only. Let us go

forward together with purity of heart in the one essential effort for

our salvation. Let us go forward together in the choice of simple

personal acts of love responding to our brother’s or sister’s need,

and we will be surprised to truly encounter new life and the living

Christ.

Glory to Jesus Christ.


 

Given on 2.12.2023

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