The Importance of Poverty at the Last Judgment

On the Sunday of the Last Judgment, we read Christ’s parable of the Judgment from Matthew 25:31-46.

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“At the Last Judgment I shall not be asked whether I was successful in my ascetic exercises, how many bows and prostrations I made [in the practice of prayer].  I shall be asked, Did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners.  That is all I shall be asked.  About every poor, hungry and imprisoned person the Savior says ‘I’: “I was hungry and thirsty, I was sick and in prison‘.  To think that he puts an equal sign between himself and anyone in need.  . . .   I always knew it, but now it has somehow penetrated to my sinews.  It fills me with awe.”  (St Maria Skobtsova, PEARL OF GREAT PRICE: THE LIFE OF MARIA SKOBTSOVA, pp 29-30)

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Christ claims to feel hungry and thirsty everyone time a poor or needy person feels hungry and thirsty.   The poor are Christ’s Body.  He experiences sickness, sighing, sorrow and suffering in and through each of them.  That is what we have to understand when we are aware of such suffering and ignore it – we choose to ignore the Lord and let Him wallow in His suffering.   The Gospel for the Sunday of the Last Judgment, as it turns out, isn’t simply describing events that will happen at the end of the world.  It is telling us how our life, attitude and decisions now affect Christ.  We will have to answer at the Judgment for how we treat Christ during our own life time.  How we treat the poor and needy is how we treat Christ.  It is not just the Sanhedrin and Pilate who crucify Christ.  We do it too when we cause Him to suffer in and through the lives of the poor and needy.

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