Sunday, March 7, 2021
Sunday of the Last Judgement (Meatfare) (Tone 6)
Father Micah Chisholm Phone: (989) 324-8773
[Please Note: A modified approach to reading, chanting, and singing the various portions of this Liturgy Service, while we are still in a period of “prevention” regarding any possible spread of the COVID-19 virus, will be employed. A maximum of three (3) readers/singers (possibly pairs of readers/singers) will be utilized, and they will be located a significant distance away from the worshipers. They will be wearing their masks when not delivering any “audio”. Generally, out of necessity, masks will be lowered when delivering “vocalizations”, otherwise breathing difficulties can be encountered.]
Entrance Hymn: Come, let us worship and fall down before Christ, Who rose from the dead O Son of God, save us who sing to Thee: Alleluia!
Resurrectional Troparion – Tone 6: The angelic powers were at Thy tomb; the guards became as dead men. Mary stood by Thy grave, seeking Thy most pure Body. Thou didst capture hell, not being tempted by it. Thou didst come to the Virgin, granting life. O Lord Who didst rise from the dead, Glory to Thee.
Troparion – St. Sebastian of Jackson – Tone 8: The image of God was preserved in thee, O father, for thou didst take up thy cross and follow Christ. Thou didst teach by thine own example that the flesh is to be spurned as transient, while the soul needs great care as it is immortal. Wherefore, O venerable Sebastian, thou dost rejoice with the Angels.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit!
Kontakion – St. Sebastian of Jackson – Tone 2: O father Sebastian, armed with purity of soul and grasping unceasing prayer as firmly as a spear, thou didst pierce the demons’ armies. Unceasingly pray for us all.
Both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Kontakion – Sunday of Meatfare (Last Judgement) – Tone 1: When Thou, O God, shalt come to earth with glory, all things shall tremble and the river of fire shall flow before Thy Judgement Seat; the Books shall be opened and hidden things disclosed; then deliver me from the iunquenchable fire and make me worthy to stand at Thy right hand, O Righteous Judge.
The Prokeimenon (in the 3rd Tone): Great is our Lord and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure.
Verse: Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God!
Epistle Reading (I Cor. 8:8-9:2)
Brethren, meat does not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol's temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother's falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall. Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
Gospel (St. Matthew 25:31-46)
The Lord said to His disciples: "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 them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of 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, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, `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, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?' Then he will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Hymn to the Theotokos
It is truly meet to bless thee, O Theotokos, ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of Our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, without defilement thou gavest birth to God the Word, true Theotokos, we magnify thee.
Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the highest! Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous; praise is meet for the upright.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, Who didst come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Moreover, I believe that this is truly Thy most Pure Body, and that this is truly Thine Own Precious Blood. Wherefore, I pray Thee: Have mercy on me and forgive me my transgressions, voluntary and involuntary, in word and in deed, in knowledge and in ignorance. And vouchsafe me to partake without condemnation of Thy most pure Mysteries unto the remission of my sins and life everlasting.
Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, receive me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of the Mystery to Thine enemies, nor will I give Thee a kiss as did Judas, but like the Thief do I confess Thee: Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom.
Let not the communion of Thy Holy Mysteries be unto me for judgment, or condemnation, O Lord, but for healing of soul and body. Amen.
The Many Years
Our Great Lord and Father, His Holiness Kyrill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, our Lord the Very Most Reverend Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, our Lord the Most Reverend Peter, Archbishop of Chicago and Mid-America, and their God-protected flock, this land, its civil authorities and armed forces, the God-preserved Russian Land, the Rector of this Holy Parish and all Orthodox Christians: preserve, O Lord, for many years!
The Last Judgment
(Reflections in Christ by Fr. Steven Kostoff)
Knowing the commandments of the Lord, let this be our way of life: Let us feed the hungry, let us give the thirsty drink. Let us clothe the naked, let us welcome strangers. Let us visit those in prison and the sick. Then the Judge of all the earth will say even to us: “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you” [Vespers for the Sunday of the Last Judgment].
Every Orthodox Christian knows deep down that he or she will come before the “dread judgment seat of Christ our God.” At every liturgy we pray for a “good defense” before that judgment seat. The works of love enumerated by Christ in the parable of the Last Judgment are the good defense (Gr. apologia) that express our response to others of the love we receive from God.
The Lord Who judges is the God Who first and foremost forgives our sins with a love that we cannot fully grasp, not a celestial terrorist. Judgment is not a rigorous assessment before a suspicious and implacable deity, but the revelation of our inner being and the depths of our hearts. Judgment reveals with total clarity our “true selves.”
Thus, judgment as condemnation is self-imposed. In the judgment we will answer such probing questions as: What did God mean in my life? What was the concrete effect of our declaration “I believe in God?” Did I serve my neighbor or just myself? The heart flush with love and mercy expands with good works. The cold heart shrinks with acts of selfishness. Father Sergius Bulgakov wrote: “A merciful and charitable heart — that is what God wants from us: Be merciful like your Father in heaven. If in a human being’s heart there is no love, then all that he has is dead and of no value.”
The judgment of the Lord is the light of God searching for love in the depths of our heart. Our glorified Lord will discover it in the enlarged heart, but not in the shriveled one. The presence of such love — for both God and neighbor — means that we spent our lives in actual service, and not lip service, to God and neighbor. Applying this specifically to our faith in Christ, Father Bulgakov added this: “Love for one’s neighbor is also love for Christ and contains the latter in itself. The sole Neighbor to Whom all our works of love and all our love refer and can refer is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself…. In the Divine Incarnation, the Lord became the new Adam, true Man, living in the human race like a vine in its vineyard, and thus establishing true humanity in every man. Christ lives in every man; to the eyes of love, every man is the image of God, the image of Christ. To the eyes of love, every man is Christ Himself living in him.”
The Christian life cannot be reduced to charitable deeds alone. The “Social Gospel” is not the Gospel of Christ. Again we turn to Father Bulgakov for a balanced response: “Is Christian life reducible to charity alone? Does this mean that right faith, Christian hope, the fulfillment of Church decrees, adherence to doctrine, and prayer have no significance for salvation? Does this mean that heresies, schisms, and absence of faith do not matter if one’s works are good…? No, all these things are required of the Christian and will be taken into account by the Just Judge: but separated from love, these things are the empty virtue of the arrogant pharisee or of the older son in the parable of the prodigal son.”
The judgment of Christ should not be conceived in negative terms. Nor should the prospect of judgment cast a frightening shadow or stir up anxiety over every deed, word or thought. No one is keeping score. Instead, remember that judgment before the Lord means that our lives have significance. Our deeds, words and thoughts are not empty gestures, meaningless sounds, or fleeting impressions destined for oblivion, but the accumulated evidence of a life that was brought into existence and destined to be lived according to the will of our Creator. A “cup of cold water” given “to one of these little ones” has eternal resonance.
The Fathers tell us that we have the gift of “self-determination” (Gr. autexousia). This means that we are forming ourselves in the way we shall be for all of eternity — a sheep “at His right hand” or a goat “at the left.”