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Sunday of the Last Judgment


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The past two Sundays spoke to us of God's patience and limitless compassion, of his readiness to accept every sinner who returns to him.  Today, we are powerfully reminded of a complementary truth: no one is so patient and so merciful as God, but even he does not forgive those who do not repent.  The God of love is also a God of righteousness, and when Christ comes again in glory, he will come as our judge.  "Behold the goodness and severity of God" [Romans 11.22.  Such is the message of Lent for each of us: turn back while there is still time; repent before the End comes.  Nor is the judgment merely in the future.  Here and now, each day and each hour, in hardening our hearts towards others and in failing to respond to the opportunities we are given of helping them, we are already passing judgment on ourselves.

Today is also known as Meatfare Sunday because this is the last day on which the consumption of meat is sanctioned until Pascha: please see the related article on the "Father Quotes" page. 

The Epistle reading for today reminds us that the liberties which we have regarding such matters (abstinence) must not scandalize or be a stumbling block to the weak.  

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The following readings below are for Sunday, February 16, 2020:


Today's Epistle reading [1 Cortinthians 8.8-9.2]

Food will not commend us to God.  We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.  Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.  For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol's temple, might he not be encouraged, if his consceience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?  And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.  Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their consceience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.  Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother's falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall.

Am I not free?  Am I not an apostle?  Are not you my workmanship in the Lord?  If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

 


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The Gospel reading for today [Matthew 25.31-46]:



"When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.  Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed mne, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'  Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?  And when did we see thee a stranger and wecome thee, or naked and clothe thee?  And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?'  And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'  Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'  Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?'  Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.'  And they will go away into eternal puni9shment, but the righteous into eternal life."