Meatfare Sunday is the last Sunday before Great Lent begins next week. We have read the account of the Great Judgement from the Gospel of Matthew to prepare ourselves. Here the central theme is Christian love as the “possible impossibility.”

We should not understand this reading entirely as a parable. The only aspect of parable appears in the section of this discourse where the shepherd separates sheep from goats. The remainder is a dramatic account of what will take place when the Son of Man finally institutes judgement. Matthew depicts a vision of eschatological rewards and punishment from the apocalyptic worldview of his time. Many of us no longer think of the end time in those terms.

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Meatfare Sunday is the last Sunday before Great Lent begins next week. We have read the account of the Great Judgement from the Gospel of Matthew to prepare ourselves. Here the central theme is Christian love as the “possible impossibility.” We should not understand this reading entirely as a parable. The only aspect of parable appears in the section of this discourse where the shepherd separates sheep from goats. The remainder is a dramatic account of what will take place when the Son of Man finally institutes judgement. Matthew depicts a vision of eschatological rewards and punishment from the apocalyptic worldview of his time. Many of us no longer think of the end time in those terms.

Don’t be surprised when you come across certain devout Christians today who continue to inhabit that worldview. None of this should concern us. What is essential in Matthew’s teaching is that mercy leads to life while its opposite leads to exclusion from the banquet of life. This is an inescapable aspect of the Gospel. Judgement is delivered according to the performance or nonperformance of the works of mercy. In this reading six of those works are cited over and over by the judge. These are the works of mercy:

Feeding the hungry,

Giving the thirsty something to drink,

Welcoming the stranger,

Clothing the naked,

Caring for the sick,

Visiting the imprisoned.

By doing these things the law of God is fulfilled. God wants mercy not sacrifice.

 

Out of these six works I want to comment on the third: welcoming the stranger. I suspect that it is not often chosen for attention in a homily. Recently I was gifted with a book about the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Canada. The title of the book is: “Strangers in a Strange Church: New Faces of Ukrainian Catholicism in Canada.” The book broaches the question, what happens when a non-Ukrainian joins the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Nine such people tell their stories in this book. All of them are young and engaged in their parishes and passionate about the lifestyle demanded of a Ukrainian Catholic. They have truly found a new home in the church we too love and inhabit.

 

One of those who offers serious critical comment is Fr Andriy Chirovsky, Founder and First Director of the Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies now in Toronto. He says:

This book . . . illustrates the self-evident but frequently forgotten truth that . . . while rooted in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church is obviously a Church for people of all backgrounds. Otherwise, it becomes just one more ethnic organization – with a religious veneer.

Many more challenging issues are raised by this book. Ultimately the welcome we offer the stranger is a work of mercy which will strengthen our Church community and enable it to grow in grace and love.

Fr Brian Kelty, PhD

Cathedral Administrator

Don’t be surprised when you come across certain devout Christians today who continue to inhabit that worldview. None of this should concern us. What is essential in Matthew’s teaching is that mercy leads to life while its opposite leads to exclusion from the banquet of life. This is an inescapable aspect of the Gospel. Judgement is delivered according to the performance or nonperformance of the works of mercy. In this reading six of those works are cited over and over by the judge. These are the works of mercy:

Feeding the hungry,

Giving the thirsty something to drink,

Welcoming the stranger,

Clothing the naked,

Caring for the sick,

Visiting the imprisoned.

By doing these things the law of God is fulfilled. God wants mercy not sacrifice.

Out of these six works I want to comment on the third: welcoming the stranger. I suspect that it is not often chosen for attention in a homily. Recently I was gifted with a book about the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Canada. The title of the book is: “Strangers in a Strange Church: New Faces of Ukrainian Catholicism in Canada.” The book broaches the question, what happens when a non-Ukrainian joins the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Nine such people tell their stories in this book. All of them are young and engaged in their parishes and passionate about the lifestyle demanded of a Ukrainian Catholic. They have truly found a new home in the church we too love and inhabit.

One of those who offers serious critical comment is Fr Andriy Chirovsky, Founder and First Director of the Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies now in Toronto. He says:

This book . . . illustrates the self-evident but frequently forgotten truth that . . . while rooted in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church is obviously a Church for people of all backgrounds. Otherwise, it becomes just one more ethnic organization – with a religious veneer.

Many more challenging issues are raised by this book. Ultimately the welcome we offer the stranger is a work of mercy which will strengthen our Church community and enable it to grow in grace and love.

Fr Brian Kelty, PhD

Cathedral Administrator

This post is also available in: Ukrainian