Sunday, February 23, 2014

we are strangers, and they welcome us: thoughts on Final Judgment Sunday

This Sunday, we heard the Gospel of the Final Judgement, Jesus separating the sheep from the goats. I usually come away from this Gospel with a reviewed sense of needing to be more charitable, needing to give more time and resources to others, needing to be more loving and involved in the community. 
Not this year.
This year, I realized and was humbled that I am 'the least of my brothers.' 
This is the baptism of our first daughter. My husband is six months from his diaconal ordination. The church was in a restored garage. We were 'strangers' here, and the different Byzantine jurisdiction welcomed us.
We moved across the country when our first daughter was four months old and I was pregnant with our second. Now, my husband was ordained a deacon. We were hungry, and they fed us- hospitality being very important to Romanians and mid-Westerners.
Now, the hospital where my husband works allows him to use space in an old convent. This is the space for Bible study and evening prayer. 
Our 'big' mission has Sunday Divine Liturgy at a church built and used by a different jurisdiction within the Byzantine rite. We are reaping the rewards of their hard work through the years. Yes, we are those workers who showed up at the 11th hour and are given the same as those workers who toiled all day. These priests and believers will be rewarded eternally for their willingness to 'clothe the naked' among their fellow Byzantine Catholics. 
Our 'micro-mission' meets at a large Roman-rite chapel. This photo shows how much we have been given- the icons were written by a woman and gifted to us. The chalice set covered by the cloths at the far table was given to us by a priest in a different church. The altar boy vestment was sewn by a woman who does not attend our services. 'Our' deacon is really a Roman-rite deacon, busy with his ministries at the large parish but willing, with his wife, to help our small community. 
Most of all, the Roman-rite parish connected with this chapel didn't need to 'give drink' to us thirsty and poor Byzantine Catholics. But they did. It is true that many, many Roman-rite Catholics are confused by our practices. My last post still stands; celibacy and the 'normal' Roman-rite Mass are seen by most people I know to be the essential bricks of the Catholic faith. But here, right now, this community is trusting enough to allow us to celebrate here with our poverty. We were thirsty, and they gave us drink. The priests, bishops and people will be remembered eternally for their gift!

“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 people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by 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 me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘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, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46


  1. i love seeing how other rites, jurisdictions, and people have blessed you over the years.

  2. So often when I heard this proclaimed in the Latin Rite I came away with the sense that I'm never going to be able to do enough.

    This year, hearing it among the Byzantines who've welcomed us so warmly, I was struck with the idea that it contains, among other legitimate interpretations, an invitation to embrace joyfully the Cross in the form of parenthood. Five children and another on the way, the oldest of whom is 10, provide me ample opportunity to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, console the afflicted, and counsel the doubtful...all without leaving my own home.

    I'll discuss this with my spiritual director but this year, in the context of yesterday's Divine Liturgy, I heard an invitation to more faithfully care for those souls the Lord has entrusted to my care and worry less about all the madness of the world around me.

    1. Flambeaux- raising a holy family goes far beyond just your children...I think your thoughts are spot-on. Remember the quotation from Blessed Theresa- when someone asked her what they can do to change the world, she said to "go home and love your family."

  3. This is a great post. I think that for many if not most of us struggle with pride and that pride leaves us feeling and acting like both the elder brother and the pharisee. We tend to remind ourselves of our magnanimity rather than our smallness. We are both the prodigal son and the least of the brethren.

    1. it does say a lot of my pride that I identify with the 'eldest son'- even when I know he has a long way to go, he is 'superior' to the prodigal....I have a lot of work to do (with God's grace)!

  4. I'll be brief. God bless you and your family.

  5. This is a beautiful, beautiful thought. Yes, indeed. We were strangers, and they welcomed us in.

  6. The first picture in this latest post really brought back great memories of the baptism. It is now the desktop picture on my computer. So now I see it every time I start up my computer. And of course the text of your spirit-filled post was great as usual.

  7. Thanks for this wonderful post. God Bless you and your family. I love the Byzantine's focus on the "Small things" like Final Judgment to remember so well what this life is all about. I love it.


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