"Insomuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me." So speaks our Lord in the Parable of the Last Judgment to the sheep on His right hand, those who have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and visited the sick and those in prison. Do you see how our Lord shares the joys and sufferings of the very least of His creatures? Unlike the Muslim God Allah, He is not a God Who stands afar off, not a mere judge, but a caring Father Who dwells in the hearts of those who love Him and strive to do His will. Truly He is closer to us than the very air we breathe.
Nor is this so hard to understand, even from our limited human point of view. As parents, do we not suffer and rejoice along with our children? Is it not our greatest happiness that they be happy? And if, as a father, I must discipline my child, I may say (and truly mean it) that it hurts me more than them. This is, of course, but a dim reflection of the unconditional love God has for each and every one of us, a love so vast we cannot begin to comprehend it in its fullness.
Yet having said all this, is this not the Sunday of the Last Judgment? And the Gospel minces no words concerning the severity of this judgment. But we must understand that God's "judgment" is neither arbitrary nor vindictive, nor does He take pleasure in swooping down upon the sinner and casting him into hell. That which we call God's judgment is rather the natural consequence of our actions (or our failure to act). "God does not desire the death of a sinner, but rather that the sinner turn from his way and live."
God has, however, given us the gift of free will, and He totally respects our right to choose--either eternal life in His heavenly Kingdom or eternal darkness apart from Him. If we choose to love God and to set aside our own selfish interests and desires, it will follow as night follows day that we will love our neighbor and show compassion on those in need.
Today we also celebrate the holy New Martyrs of Russia, those faithful Christians who fell victim to the godless Soviet regime. Now the judgment of God upon Holy Russia was also the natural consequence of a falling away from God, but thanks to the steadfast love and witness of the martyrs and the repentance of the faithful, the power of evil and darkness has finally been vanquished and a new day of renewal has dawned for the Church of Russia. Let us not forget, however, the prophetic words of blessed Seraphim of Platina: "What began in Russia will end in America." We have also, as a nation, largely fallen away from God and it is likely that this same judgment will fall upon us. May we, like the New Martyrs of Russia, remain steadfast in the Faith and courageously bear witness to the truth and power of God's love.