Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fr Georges Massouh on How We Will Be Judged

Arabic original here.

What Have You Done to Your Fellow Man?

"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life," (John 14:6) says Christ the Lord. The Christian understands these words as a commitment realized in the here and now, where he is, breathes and moves.

Christ being the Way means for the Christians that he follows in the path of his Teacher. That is, he walks in love to the utmost, to the point of sacrificing himself for the other, since "the servant is not better than his Master."

Christ being the Truth means that the Christian does all he is able to realize the truth and to eliminate falsehood when he sees oppression, enmity or compulsion.

Christ being the Life means that the Christian lives in his daily life like Christ lived, that He and He alone is the model, ideal and good example.

Thus we find Christ to be the companion of the vulnerable and tormented on the earth. He hungered with them. He thirsted with them. He  had no place to lay His head. Thus Christianity is not merely a spiritual life in which we advance through prayer and fasting alone. Rather, it is a material and moral commitment to our neighbor. Not our neighbor in terms of flesh, blood and natural descent, but the one who has "become a neighbor" after you had mercy upon him.

Christ made Himself equal to the vulnerable, the oppressed and the tormented on the earth. He said that the basis for judgment on the Last Day is nothing other than the love that man shows his fellow man, incarnate in mercy. To say that "God is love", "God is merciful" or "God is holy" remains sterile and impossible for any human to believe if these truths are not reflected in the lives of those who believe it.

Notable in this context is what is said in the Gospel of Matthew about the standards for judgment, where the people gathered are asked a single question that defines their fate, "What did you to your fellow man?" Christ gives the response to those who are saved from eternal fire, "for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me," affirming to those listening that "inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me" (Matthew 25: 31-46).

The apex of the Christian life is manifest in the most glorious of its images in the cross, where Christ the Lord gave Himself freely "for the life of the world." Thus the Christian must love his fellow man to the point of sacrificing himself so that the other who is placed in his responsibility might live. Of this Christ says, "Let him who desires to follow Me deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it" (Mark 8:34-36).

There is no doubt that the nine Beatitudes with which Christ opens his preaching career in His famous Sermon on the Mount are a summary of His teachings. He grants blessedness, that is eternal life, to "the poor in spirit, the meek, those who sorrow, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers and those oppressed for righteousness' sake." Must we wait for Christ to come again in order for this blessedness to prevail? No, it is present from this moment in those who live it in hope.

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