A little late (due to difficulties in translation and a business trip) but always a good reminder.
I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ…He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead.
Who says this? Every Christian does. If that is true then, without a doubt, both I and every one of you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, you heartily believe that Jesus Christ is the righteous judge of all earth-born and will come to judge all people, living and dead, who will be resurrected either for eternal blessedness or for eternal judgment? Are you ready to meet the worldwide Judge and give an answer at the dread judgment of Christ for every word and deed? Do you possess any good deeds? Why do I need ask any longer? From the life and behavior of a Christian it is completely clear that about the righteous Judge, dreadful judgment, and eternal life they forgot and with every day they rapidly rush to eternal death which they never imagined. They hasten to receive their comfort on the earth and are deprived of it for an eternity in heaven. They only care about how to kill precious time spending it pleasantly; but about using it for the good of the soul in order to prepare (Proverbs 24:27) no one bothers.
The one who desires eternal joy tastes little of the earthly, says St. Gennady, Patriarch of Constantinople, while among us earthly pleasures are almost constant. Many of us live as though they will never die and give an answer for their life. What does this mean? Is it in order to repent only just before death and receive complete forgiveness? Of course God does not refuse even the one who comes to Him at the eleventh hour, that is, the one who turns to Him with all his heart. But if your heart has been far from God for the most part of your life, then do you think it will be easy to move it to God and awaken in it feelings of repentance before death? O, brothers! This is where it will spurn you unto your own death. I have seen not just once how hard it is to listen to words of repentance, how they are lost in confession before ones departure for those who didn’t think about their correction and were not able to repent in life. No, brothers! A Christian ending is the reward for true Christians. Repent, according to your ability, all your life and a peaceful ending, with true repentance, will meet you.
Thus, prepare for judgment, the dread judgment, the righteous judgment, the singular and final judgment after which there will be either eternal blessedness or unending suffering. Don’t be surprised that I speak so resolutely, the truth is like royalty, it has a right to speak this way. And here is the great necessity of talking about preparation for judgment. When one is looking at the obvious eternal death of souls from carelessness and negligence then it is necessary to resolutely act, and even more resolutely than at other times, it is necessary to speak the truth. When you see that an obvious danger of death by burning or drowning is hanging over someone would you not act in such a case with all resoluteness? Yes, because in the case of indecisiveness the one needing to be saved may perish. And so we need all resoluteness and fear of the future judgment to save people, lifting them from the flames: after all, we’re not very far from the eternal fire, and many, perhaps, are one step away. Brother! Think, perhaps “this night thy soul shall be required of thee” (Luke 12:20), and you will be in hell, in torment…in these flames. Thus, prepare for judgment, prepare from this very day; do good deeds while it is yet day: the night of death is coming when no man can work (John 9:4). We’ve busied ourselves with bustle enough. It’s time to take a look at our poor souls with testing eyes. Go to Church; sigh over your sins; wait with the Church with fear the great day of judgment. The Church constantly has the thought of the judgment: morning, afternoon, and night; everyday both early and late she reminds us, her children, about that great day on which is decided the fate of all the human race, but the thoughts of her children are busy with that which only excites them pleasantly for a few minutes, gladdens their heart which is fond of earthly joys. The Lord, who is Truth and Life, thunders with His voice about the future imminent judgment commanding us to watch and pray at all times in spirit (Mark 13:33, Luke 21:36) in order that we may avoid the terrible lot of the judged. The Apostles affirm that the Judge is at the door (James 5:9) …and we appear not to what to even hear about it. Others think and even say, “What terrible judgment!? The Lord is merciful; He will have mercy, after all, we sin more by weakness than in wickedness or obstinacy…” But they don’t think about the fact that the merciful shall obtain mercy (Matt. 5:7), that “he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy” (James 2:13). Where are your deeds of mercy, when you, obviously, only look after yourself?
Brothers! God forbid that any one appears where the rich man who made merry every day ended up. And if we find ourselves there then it will be too late to ask for a drop of water to cool our tongue, too late to inform our relatives so that they don’t end up there as well (Luke 16:19-31). “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matt. 25:13). Amen.
St. John of Kronstadt