I am counting on God asking me two questions when I approach the Throne of the Lamb for my particular judgement. Matthew 25 gives all of us pause to stop and reflect on these questions. Here are my two:
What did you learn? Notice God doesn’t say, you sinned and cannot come to Heaven. He knows that I am a sinner. Everyone except Christ and his mother are sinners. Did you move beyond thinking that you can just do whatever you want and then ask forgiveness later. Conversio morae is what penetintial people do to move from self to God. They are not satisfied with just being a sinner, sinning bravely, asking forgiveness, then sinning again and again. Christ wants us to try to reduce our sinful self and transform ourselves with grace. If I have in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5), there is an attempt on my part to consciously push away those habits which lead to the sin itself. It is the process of fighting temptations, winning the battle over bad habits (they never really go away because of Original Sin), but we can turn towards Christ to help us. This turning, this attempt at transformation, this fight against doing our will verses that of God’s will, are the lessons we learn. Christ without the passion and death on a cross is like each of us if we don’t struggle each day to say, “Jesus is Lord”. It is the daily taking up of our cross (each one of us being unique) that is a big part of love of others as Christ loved us.
What did you do about what you learned? When I die and stand before the Throne of the Lamb, my being will encounter the Being of God. My lessons learned will be automatically revealed. What will also be displayed is what I did about what I have learned. This passage from Matthew makes me quite uncomfortable. It is a cautionary tale reminding me that just doing prayers and reading the Scriptures may not be quite what Christ had in mind for his disciples.
The Judgment of the Nations.*31f “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne,32g and all the nations* will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.33He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.34Then 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.35h For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,36naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’37Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?38When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’40i And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’41*j Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.42k For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,43a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’44* Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’45He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’46l And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” http://www.usccb.org
All salvation comes from the Baptismal gift of Faith and we know we have Faith because Christ loved us and bid us do the same to others, even those who might hate us. We have an opportunity while living to ask God to have mercy on his, but this is contingent on us having mercy on others as we would want God to have mercy on us. The Church Universal provides what we need to sustain our Baptismal commitment; the Eucharist, Christ’s very body come into our heart and Penance in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where Christ tells us that he makes all things new once more, until we meet him face to face.
In the meantime, each day is an opportunity to love others as Christ loves us.