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 welcome 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.’
This is the last day of eating meat, traditionally, until Pascha. One week away from Great Lent, we hear the parable of the Last Judgement, the sheep separated from the goats—goodness rewarded and sin punished.
The previous prelenten readings have been leading to this image of the final exam
time, as it were, when the teaching, reminders, and mentoring end, and our performance is evaluated. What is the metric for a passing grade? This Sunday’s story tells us plainly that the one criterion by which Christ will judge us is love; love for our neighbour is love of God. Sin is the absence of love. Do we live in love or not?
Your (my) humanity develops and thrives only because you have been and continue to be loved. Cruelty, criminality, hunger, and want emerge from a lack of love; caring for others, is how we manifest the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. This parable tells us that Christ is present not only in our fellow parishioners, family, or friends—He is in every human being, even those most in need.
Let’s reach out to Him at every opportunity and, like the father of the prodigal last week, let’s celebrate being home.