Measured by Love

There is a saying from St. John of the Cross: "Love is the measure by which we shall be judged." I heard it often from Dorothy Day. These few words summarize much of the gospel and have to do with God's final weighing of our lives.

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 on 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 you hungry and feed you ...?" And the King will answer them, "Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, 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 ..."

Then they will answer, "Lord, when did we see you hungry ... and did not minister to you?" 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.
-- Matthew 25:31-37, 40-42, 44-45

In practically any ancient church in Europe, one finds at least one visual representation of the Last Judgment, the blessed processing off complacently to the left, the damned -- rather pathetic figures -- being shoveled by grotesque devils into the fiery jaws of a dragon.

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