Thursday, March 20, 2008

Judgment of Love

When Christ comes to judge us, what will be the criterion of his judgment? The parable [of the Last Judgment -- Mt 25:31-46] answers: love -- not a mere humanitarian concern for abstract justice and the anonymous "poor," but concrete and personal love for the human person, any human person, that God makes me encounter in my life. This distinction is important because today more and more Christians tend to identify Christian love with political, economic, and social concern; in other words, they shift from the unique person and it unique personal destiny, to anonymous entities such as "class," "race," etc. Not that these concerns are wrong. It is obvious that in their respective walks of life, in their responsibilities as citizens, professional[s], etc., Christian are called to care, to the best of their possibilities and understanding, for a just, equal, and in general more humane society. All this, to be sure, stems from Christianity and may be inspired by Christian love. But Christian love as such is something different, and this difference is to be understood and maintained if the Church is to preserve her unique mission and not become a mere "social agency," which definitely she is not.

Christian love is the "possible impossibility" to see Christ in another ... , whoever he is, and whom God, in His eternal and mysterious plan, has decided to introduce into my life, be it only for a few moments, not as an occasion for a "good deed" or an exercise in philanthropy, but as the beginning of an eternal companionship in God Himself. For indeed, what is love if not that mysterious power which transcends the accidental and the external in the "other" -- his physical appearance, social rank, ethnic origin, intellectual capacity -- and reaches the soul, the unique and uniquely personal "root" of a human being, truly the part of God in him? ...

-- Alexander Schmemann, Great Lent: Journey to Pascha, pp. 24f.


-C said...

These words fairly left off the page at me last week when I started reading this book.

Schmemann nails precisely my own confusion about the differences between love and social justice - there IS a difference (as you and I have discussed before).

Thanks for this, Dwight.

-C said...

I meant, "leapt" or "lept" ...

Check twice, publish once.

A blessed Holy week-end to you, Dwight, and best wishes for a wonderful feast.