Judgment Day

Antonio P. Pueyo
Christ the King Sunday (A)
November 20, 2005
Reproduced with Permission

There was a beautiful beach that I visited in one of our seven thousand islands in the Philippines. It was a place for eco-tourism. Beside the beach is a thick forest and it was not rare to see deer and monkeys. It was a spot that has not been visibly corrupted by human presence. Those who take care of the place have put up a large sign for visitors: Shoot nothing but pictures, Take nothing but memories, Leave nothing but footprints.

This sign says a lot about the quality of our human presence on this earth. We are merely pilgrims on this planet. We are just passing through. We should be leaving this earth without having harmed it or any of its dwellers. Memories of earth will be possible in the next life, making us thankful or regretful. The footprints of our life will remind others that once we have lived here. Some will remain in the collective memory of many generations but most will be remembered only by people whose lives they have personally touched. That is how we will be judged by our fellow human beings.

Action Starter: Is somebody’s life fuller by what you have done?

During the funeral ceremonies of a famous actor who ran for president of our country, the testimonies and the eulogies were mostly about his kind acts to many poor people such as the vendors, the film crew, the caretaker of his horse, and out of luck actors. Not much was said about how many films or how many millions he has made.

Yes, we will be judged by our fellowmen. But that is not the only judgment that we have to face. Most of all we will face the judgment of God. We will have to face Christ the King on Judgment day and we will be made to account for our life. The message of the parable from this Sunday’s Gospel is plain enough (Mt. 25:31-46). The quality of our earthly life will be measured against the criterion of “loving action” such as feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, etc. The quality of our presence will be measured against how we have made others’ lives better. We have lived “l ife to the full” when we make the lives of others fuller.

A wise man said, “The rains feed the river, the river feeds the trees along its banks, the trees produce fruits and feed people. Whom do people feed?” I wish we could say truly, “People feed people. We also feed the animals, the plants, the trees. We sustain the streams and rivers so that the rivers can flow to the ocean and the ocean can feed the clouds, and the clouds can bring the rain.”

Yes, Judgment day is about sustaining life. It is about sustaining the life of the poor, the disadvantaged, and the helpless. It is also about sustaining life in this planet. It is recognizing our connections with one another under the Kingship of Christ. If we do not recognize this, if we do not become responsible for one another and for this earth, judgment day may come sooner than we expect.