Sunday of the Last Judgment

Today, the Church begins her preparations for the Great Fast ( aka, Great Lent).

In the coming weeks we will delve into what the Great Fast means for us.

Archpriest David Petras writes,

In our preparation for the Great Fast, we must notice a theme emerging. In the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, the Pharisee was not justified because he failed to see the image of God in the tax collector. (“I thank you that I am not like this tax collector,” Luke 18:11). In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the older son was not justified because he failed to see the image of God in the prodigal returned home. (“But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him,” Luke 15:20).

Today, in the final judgment, the Lord says to the condemned goats, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it (show charitable works of mercy) to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (Matthew 25:45). In the popular mind, Lent is a time for self-denial. Stop, that’s it. But why? Because if we do not deny ourselves, we cannot see the image of God in the other, in each and every other human being that he has created.

Possibly the Last Judgment was commemorated on this Sunday, because it is the conclusion of a “Church Year.” Next Sunday, Cheesefare Sunday, we begin again with the story of Adam and Eve and the Fall.

The Great Fast is our journey through the Old Testament, which is concluded with the New Covenant: the Mystical Supper, the Crucifixion and the Glorious and Life-giving Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. We then see through the lens of the Resurrection how God’s plan is fulfilled in Christ in the Gospel of John the Theologian (until Pentecost), in the Gospel of Matthew (from Pentecost to the Exaltation of the Cross), and in the Gospel of Luke (from the Exaltation of the Cross until the Sunday of the Prodigal Son).

Then on this Sunday, we celebrate the last and final and eschatological mystery of the Final Judgment, in which God brings to completion and perfection the whole human story. That may be why, on the day before the Sunday of the Last Judgment, we remember the death of each human being, which is the completion and perfection of our own individual story and our inclusion in God’s ultimate divine plan. Interestingly, the Roman Church read the Gospel of the Final Judgment on the last Sunday before Advent, which began their liturgical year.

Meatfare Week

As a preparation for Holy Week and Pascha, the Gospel of the passion of our Lord according to St. Mark is read. Today Jesus enters Jerusalem as the people exclaim, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Which we sing at every Liturgy in the Anaphora. These acclamations proved to be hollow, when the priests and elders seduced the mob to ask for Jesus’ crucifixion.

Here is a meditation of St. Gregory on the Passion:

So let us take our part in the Passover prescribed by the law, not in a literal way, but according to the teaching of the Gospel; not in an imperfect way, but perfectly; not only for a time, but eternally. Let us regard as our home the heavenly Jerusalem, not the earthly one; the city glorified by angels, not the one laid waste by armies. We are not required to sacrifice young bulls or rams, beasts with horns and hoofs that are more dead than alive and devoid of feeling; but instead, let us join the choirs of angels in offering God upon his heavenly altar a sacrifice of praise. We must now pass through the first veil and approach the second, turning our eyes toward the Holy of Holies. I will say more: we must sacrifice ourselves to God, each day and in everything we do, accepting all that happens to us for the sake of the Word, imitating his passion by our sufferings, and honoring his blood by shedding our own. We must be ready to be crucified.  (St. Gregory the Theologian, Homily, 45)

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

Meatfare Sunday — Sunday of the Last Judgement

Last JundgementIn our preparation for the Great Fast, we must notice a theme emerging. In the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, the Pharisee was not justified because he failed to see the image of God in the tax collector. (“I thank you that I am not like this tax collector,” Luke 18:11). In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the older son was not justified because he failed to see the image of God in the prodigal returned home. (“But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him,” Luke 15:20). Today, in the final judgment, the Lord says to the condemned goats, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it (show charitable works of mercy) to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” (Matthew 25:45)” In the popular mind, Lent is a time for self-denial. Stop, that’s it. But why? Because if we do not deny ourselves, we cannot see the image of God in the other, in each and every other human being that he has created.

Possibly the Last Judgment was commemorated on this Sunday, because it is the conclusion of a “Church Year.” Next Sunday, Cheesefare Sunday, we begin again with the story of Adam and Eve and the Fall. The Great Fast is our journey through the Old Testament, which is concluded with the New Covenant: the Mystical Supper, the Crucifixion and the Glorious and Life-giving Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. We then see through the lens of the Resurrection how God’s plan is fulfilled in Christ in the Gospel of John the Theologian (until Pentecost), in the Gospel of Matthew (from Pentecost to the Exaltation of the Cross), and in the Gospel of Luke (from the Exaltation of the Cross until the Sunday of the Prodigal Son). Then tomorrow, we celebrate the last and final and eschatological mystery of the Final Judgment, in which God brings to completion and perfection the whole human story. That may be why, on the day before the Sunday of the Last Judgment, we remember the death of each human being, which is the completion and perfection of our own individual story and our inclusion in God’s ultimate divine plan. Interestingly, the Roman Church read the Gospel of the Final Judgment on the last Sunday before Advent, which began their liturgical year.

Social Concern among Ukrainian Church Faithful

reuters1304032_articoloOne of the resolutions of the 2016 Synod of Bishops of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) which met September 4-11, 2016, in Lviv-Brukhovychi, is the following:

In order to evoke an interest to the social ministering among faithful of UGCC and behave a virtue of sacrifice and mercy, to announce in UGCC:

  • Sunday of a Prodigal Son – Day of the extreme care for prisoners; Sunday of Meatfare – Day of Social service and charity;
  • Restoring a tradition of Social days initiated by righteous Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky;
  • To organize days between Sundays, mentioned as previous points as Social days and be involved in intellectual and charitable activities at the parishes.

His Beatitude, Patriarch Sviatoslav is encouraging us to look at the ways we can implement these items in our life of faith on a personal level and in our parish. It is the hope that our Parish will extend the range of Social ministry and quality, and introduce its institutional development and commitment to those in need. This is the teaching of Jesus Christ, the Fathers of the Church, and the teachers and bishops of the Church. These recommendations are consistent with the Year of Mercy which Pope Francis has called us to live.