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Sunday of the Last Judgement

“The day is upon us, the judgement is already at the door.
Be vigilant my soul. Kings and princes, rich and poor are gathering and each shall receive the due reward for his actions.
Each in his own order, monk and hierarch, old and young, slave and master shall be examined; widow and virgin shall be corrected. And woe to all whose lives are sinful!”

Canticle Four. Matins, Sunday of the Last Judgement

We are reminded (and how) of the desperate trouble we are in for our sinning. Matins of the Sunday of the Last Judgement illustrates a bewildering mix of how we will all stand naked, shaking and shivering, before the dread judgement seat while the earth quakes and the dead rise from their tombs to join us in the hope of eternal life. At least one thing can be said for the fearsome canticles; they are really Orthodox (lengthy) and fully inclusive.

Our books of life will be opened, actions examined, dark secrets made public as the Judge passes sentence on the whole earth: royalty, slaves and freemen, sinners and righteous, rich and poor.

So where is our God of Love? The God of compassion and forgiveness.

Well, He is exactly where He has always been, answering our petitions, guiding our lives and creating the wonderful prospect of giving us unconditional love. BUT – we need to keep His commandments firmly within our grasp if we are to appreciate the fullness of His love.

Getting on in life with fast cars, high salary, total freedom to do and be whatever we want to be is not outwith possibility for anyone who has a mind to succeed in this way but if the path to this achievement is harmful to others or God’s world then one can only expect a higher value grilling.

Being poor and miserable, wet and worn out, offensive and obnoxious to passers by we can also expect to be critically assessed too.

How we deal with our lives, how we interact with others, how we meet awkward people half way or more, how helpful we can be to those less fortunate than ourselves are measures which may help us at the Last Judgement to balance against a previous life of whichever sins we were particularly accomplished.

We do not understand the mystery of the Last Judgement so it is impossible for us to even attempt to rationalise how the process will work for each of us save that we already know the answer to a life with Christ. Help the poor, clothe the naked, pray for others – friend and foe but above all love God and ask for His help to conquer our own personal devils and to make a better world.

“Through greed we underwent the first stripping, overcome by the bitter tasting of the fruit, and we became exiles from God. But let us turn back to repentance and, fasting from the food that gives us pleasure, let us cleanse our senses on which the enemy makes war. Let us strengthen our hearts with the hope of grace, and not with foods which brought no benefit to those who trusted in them, Our food shall be the Lamb of God, on the holy and radiant night of His Awakening: the Victim offered for us, given in communion to the disciples on the evening of the Mystery, who disperses the darkness of ignorance by the Light of His Resurrection.”
Sunday of The Last Judgement, Vespers Tone 8

“About the Kingdom of Heaven, one aspect shouts out very clearly: the exclusive nature of the Kingdom of Heaven. The qualifications for entry are not for human understanding but they certainly do not suggest that the first on earth will be the first to enter: shocks there will be.”
Abbess Thekla