суббота, 6 февраля 2010 г.

LAST JUDGMENT. Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh.

       Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
                     LAST JUDGMENT
                   14 February 1988
                           ----

In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

Today's  parable is so familiar to us that we may well not even notice
its message. And it speaks to us of two things.

It reminds us of the fact that a day will come when we will stand face
to  face with the Living God, and then judgment will come upon us. Not
that God waits for us to judge and condemn our evil deeds; but when we
will stand before God Who is all beauty, and discover how we have made
ugly  His  image in us, when we will stand before God Who has loved us
so  much and realise how little love we have given Him √ will that not
be a judgment?

This  happens also in our earthly relations. At times we discover that
someone  loved us so deeply, so truly, and we took everything that was
given  us  ≈ all the love, all the warmth, all the tenderness, all the
care,  all the sacrifices, that we accepted the life of the person who
was  day after day renouncing himself or herself for our sake, without
responding,  taking  for granted that the love that was offered us was
our  due, our right. And then one day comes when this person dies, and
we  realise  that  we have taken, taken ceaselessly, and never given a
sign  of  recognition,  never made this person feel that we understood
how deeply, truly, generously we were loved.


And  then,  we  are  face  to  face  with  an  ultimate judgment about
ourselves:  too  late,  too late!.. O, the person who has loved us has
forgiven us all along, and now in eternity this person says before God
the words which Christ said as He has been crucified: Father! Forgive!
They did not know what they were doing... But how painful the judgment
is, our judgment upon ourselves, the sense that we could have made the
loving one so happy ≈ and we have not done it.

This  is  a  judgment  much  more  severe  than  any court of justice,
something  that  will and should hit us day after day more directly at
the  heart of hearts than any formal condemnation. It is not according
to  our  faithfulness  to  commandments, it is according to whether we
have learned to love that we will be judged.

And  today's  parable  speaks  of  it  so clearly. God does not ask us
anything  that  is  beyond  human  capabilities.  Have  you  felt  any
compassion on the hungry and the thirsty? Have you felt any compassion
on  the  homeless?  When  someone was taken a prisoner ≈ have you felt
heartbroken  for  him? Indeed, have you not shrunk away from the shame
of  being  recognised  as  his  friend?  Or the fear of being involved
together  with  him ≈ or her ≈ in the same condemnation?.. And so many
ways in which compassion, sympathy, love could be expressed.

And  what  Christ says to us is, in substance, ▒Have you been human at
all  ≈  or  not?  Have you been capable of sympathy, of compassion, of
solidarity?  Have  you  been  brothers  and  sisters to those who were
around  you?  If  you have, you are as it were ready to be filled with
new  life; but you have not even been human ≈ how can you expect to be
made  partakers  of  the  Divine  nature?▓ It is only if we are like a
diamond  that  we  can  be  filled  with the light and shine with this
light,  reflecting it in all directions; but if we are not, how can we
reflect anything?

You  remember  Christ's  words that if our eye is blind, everything is
darkness  around  us;  if  our  heart  is  blind, and deaf, and dead ≈
everything  is  dead,  and  silent with the silence of death, and dark
with the darkness of absence around us.

But  to be truly human, we must learn to be also in communion with the
One  Who  is  the  Only One Who can communicate to our hearts, and our
minds,  and  our lives true love, the fullness of it, true compassion:
Christ,  Who has come into the world to save us. And as long as we are
separated  from  Him, we can, on a very low level, be sympathetic, and
friendly,  and  gentle;  but we know not yet what it means to love, to
love with all our being, with life and death, with everything there is
in  us,  and indeed with more than there is in us: with God's own love
abroad in our hearts, God's vision in our eyes, God's sacrificial gift
of self in our own selves.

And  this is why St. John of the Ladder, Saint John Climacus says, ▒We
shall  not  be  judged  on whether we performed miracles or whether we
attained visions; but we will be judged because we have never cried of
our separation from God▓. We do not even perceive it truly, because we
are  so  used  to  the distance there is between Him and us; we do not
even realise how far we are, how poor we are.

And  from  time to time, I think, it is good to be reminded of someone
who  touched the hem of the robe of Christ, and who never, never could
forget  what he perceived then. I wish to read to you a few lines from
the  writings  of Starets Silouane. Starets Silouane says that one day
God  came  close,  close  to  him,  and  he could never forget it. And
speaking  of  himself  and  of Adam, the father of all mankind, who in
paradise knew the sweetness of the love of God, he says:

⌠Adam  pined  on  earth,  and  wept  bitterly,  and  the earth was not
pleasing  to  him any more. He was heartsick for God, and this was his
cry: My soul wearies for the Lord, and I seek Him in tears. How should
I  not seek Him? When I was with Him my soul was glad and at rest, and
the  enemy could not come near me... Where art Thou, O Lord? Where art
Thou,  my  Light?  Why  hast  Thou hidden Thy face from me? Long is it
since  my  soul beheld Thee, and she wearies after Thee and seeks Thee
in  tears. Where is my Lord? Why is it that my soul sees Him not? What
hinders  Him  from  dwelling  in  me?  This  hinders  Him: Christ-like
humility  and  love  for  my  enemies are not in me. I have lost, like
Adam,  divine grace, and with Him I call: Be merciful unto me, O Lord!
Bestow  on  me the spirit of humility and love. O love of the Lord! He
who  has known Thee seeks Thee, tireless, day and night, crying with a
loud  voice:  I  pine  for  Thee,  O Lord, and seek Thee in tears. How
should  I  not  seek Thee? Thou didst give me to know Thee by the Holy
Spirit,  and  in  her  knowing of God my soul is drawn to seek Thee in
tears■.

Here  is  a  man,  like us, a simple Russian peasant who had known the
closeness of God and felt an orphan on earth without it.

Let us reflect on this, let us reflect, because each of us, at blessed
moments, has known the closeness of God. But how easily we are content
with  being  alone  in the cold world like everyone else!.. And we are
not  called  to  be like everyone else ≈ we are called to be God's own
presence  shining  through us. So, let that light shine within us that
people give glory to our Father Who is in Heaven. Amen.
                              ----

 * All texts are copyright: Estate of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

           Metropolitan Anthony of  Sourozh Library
                   http://www.mitras.ru/eng/


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