March 6th this year, we commemorated the Sunday that is referred to as The Last Judgment. This same Sunday, Orthodox Christians eat their last meat-filled meals before the Lenten Season begins. More appropriately this Sunday is known as Meat-Fare Sunday.
Meat-fare Sunday this year we attended at Decent of the Holy Ghost Orthodox Church, which is part of the Romanian Episcopate as well as the church in which TBF, the Honey Badger and I all became part of the Orthodox family. So this congregation holds a special place in our hearts, however, when we moved, this church was further for us to drive and not as convenient with a new baby that dictates most of our morning routines! After the Divine Liturgy on March 6th, we participated in the Meat-fare dinner that Decent of the Holy Ghost church sponsored. It was an overall beautiful day. Unfortunately, due to the needs of the Honey Badger, I missed Father Ionita’s sermon on the Last Judgment, so I am going to be using Father Alexander Schmemann’s book, Great Lent: Journey to Pascha, once again to understand this celebrated day within orthodox life.
Schmemann points out that as part of Meat-fare Sunday, Orthodox Christians around the world commemorate those that have fallen asleep in the faith during the Vesper service the night before.(aka the Vigil for the Dead of Meatfare Saturday). The reason for this practice is because “Christianity is the religion of love.” For our family and friends that have fallen asleep until the resurrection of their bodies when Christ returns, we pray. We pray for these departed loved ones because of our love for them.
The Scripture of the Last Judgment is Matthew 25:31-46. Jesus Christ’s return to judge the living and the dead has a certain requirement, if you will….how much did we love? Did we actually love personally and profoundly? Or did we love abstractly or not at all? Every person has a unique soul as well as individually needs love. ‘For inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me…’
For me personally, it is easy to fall in to judging others even though I don’t personally understand someone else’s life and all the intricacies that have molded their life. I need to continue to catch myself and repent when I have thoughts about how I think someone else ought to be behaving and living. I myself am no different; I desire other people to understand me and love me. Every person is made in God’s image regardless of their life choices, their personality, their personal beliefs and so on. Each person, no matter if they are seemingly “easy” to love or “more challenging” to love need my personal attention and care when given the opportunity to love them. Praying for those around me and that are in my life is a huge step. I am still working on doing my morning prayers consistently. As part of my Orthodox walk, I have incorporated morning prayer in to my daily routine, but sometimes I get so rushed or side tracked that I don’t get to my morning prayers. As being someone called to love unconditionally, I need to abstain from listening to gossip or partaking in gossip. This specifically does not show love and diminishes the person who is on the receiving end of the gossiping. They are a child of God and require my love. In this area, I will continue to work out with God and in my daily orthodox walk.
Are there other things that you have taken away from the commemoration of the Sunday of the Last Judgment?
Are there ways in which you endeavor to show individual people more love that are in your life? If so, how?
Previous Lenten posts: