The Sunday of the Last Judgment or Meatfare Sunday is the third Sunday using the Lenten Triodion, the liturgical book used in the services of Great Lent. It is the Sunday after the Sunday of the Prodigal Son and Sunday before Forgiveness Sunday. This is the third week of the pre-Lenten start of the Easter cycle of worship in the Orthodox Church.
This Sunday is called Meatfare Sunday since it is traditionally the last day before Easter for eating meat. Orthodox Christians observe a fast from meat all week, but still eat dairy products and eggs till the start of Great Lent.
The Gospel reading this Sunday remembers Christ's parable of the Last Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46). This adds to the previous pre-Lent Sundays and teaches that it is not enough to see Jesus, to see ourselves as we are, and to come home to God as his prodigal sons. The Church teaches that, in addition, one must also be God’s sons by following Christ, his only-begotten divine Son, and by seeing Christ in everyone and by serving Christ through them.
Salvation and final judgment will depend upon deeds, not merely on intentions or even on the mercies of God apart from personal cooperation and obedience. All piety and prayer is ultimately directed towards the goal of serving Christ through his people.
From the reading, the faithful hear:
- … for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and in prison and you visited me. …. For truly I say to you, if you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me (Matthew 25 ).
Troparion (Tone 1)
- When You, O God, shall come to earth with glory,
- All things shall tremble
- And the river of fire shall flow before Your judgment seat;
- The books shall be opened and the hidden things disclosed!
- Then deliver me from the unquenchable fire,
- And make me worthy to stand at Your right hand, righteous Judge!