Today Christ’s holy passion dawns upon the world as a saving light.
For He comes of His goodness to suffer.
He who holds all things in His hand
consents to be hung upon the wood in order to save mankind.
(Kathisma Hymn, Holy Monday)
While Holy Week reminds us we will face the judgment of God, we are also reminded that God’s judgment of us is not God’s reaction to us; rather, God acts consistently toward us – always in love. God is love, it is not just what God does but who God is. Judgment will be how we relate to God’s love. All of Great Lent has been a call to become charitable – to become godlike! Created in God’s image, we are to be godlike in our lives.
“It is not (the way of) the compassionate Maker to create rational beings in order to deliver them over mercilessly to unending affliction (in punishment) for things of which He knew even before they were fashioned, (aware how they would turn out when He created them – and whom (nonetheless) He created. All the more since the foreplanning of evil and the taking of vengeance are characteristics of the passions of created beings, and do not belong to the Creator. For all this (characterizes) people who do not know or who are unaware of what they are doing or thinking when something has happened with us (human beings), for as a result of some matter that has occurred unexpectedly to them they are incited by the vehemence of anger to take vengeance. Such action does not belong to the Creator who, even before the cycle of the depiction of creation had been portrayed, knew of all that was before and all that was after in connection with the actions and intentions of rational beings.” (St. Isaac of Nineveh – 7th Century, THE SECOND PART, p 165)
If we conceive of judgment as being God’s reaction to us, St. Isaac says we misunderstand God. God is love and always acts toward us lovingly. How we react to God’s unchanging nature is where judgment occurs.
St. Isaac says vengeance and retribution are done by those whose will is being thwarted. God has no such fear regarding His will, and so is not motivated by retribution when He judges us. God’s judgment is not comparable to how we humans judge, but a totally different reality. God reveals His judgment of humanity on the Cross! Holy Week, the week in which God deals with human sin and rebellion contains the most astounding surprise as God reveals His plan for dealing with evil on earth.