“And he shall say to you, I Know you not, whence ye are: depart from me,” – Luke 13:27
My bother had just returned home from the doggie salon with Bridget, his pet dog, a Shih Tzu. He opened the gate to the back yard where her companion, Maggie, a mixed Dalmatian, another pooch owned by my brother, was lounging on the lawn. When Bridget entered the yard Maggie behaved strangely. She walked circles around Bridget sniffing as she kept her distance. My mom called Bridget to climb up to the deck floor so she could see her new hair cut. Bridget, however, just sat at the base of the stairs looking at my mom as though she had two heads. While we all puzzled over the strange event that we were witnessing the phone rang. It was the doggie salon asking to speak with my brother. It seems there was a lady who had just arrived to pick up her dog claiming that the dog did not belong to her. It just so happened that the lady’s dog was of the same breed as Bridget. Yes, you guessed it, my brother brought home the wrong dog.
No wonder Maggie acted so strangely toward her little chum. It wasn’t her chum at all. My brother immediately returned to the doggie salon and made the switch. As the real Bridget entered the back yard she was now not avoided by an incredulous Maggie, but rather was warmly welcomed with a lick from her friend. Maggie now recognized her life long pal and was judged to be bona-fide. And by that recognition she was enthusiastically received with open arms; I mean paws.
What is judgment? Judgment is recognition: recognition from our point of view and recognition from God’s point of view. It is recognition, first of all, from our point of view. Suppose that we are cleaning our house when a distinguished visitor is announced. We will say, “Oh, I am not clean, wait until I wash up and dress.” That’s the way we are when we go before the sight of God: let me clean up a bit. Recognition is also from God’s point of view. Grace is the similarity of our nature to God’s nature. St. Peter says: “We are partakers of God’s nature.” Just as our parents know us because we share their nature, so God looks upon us. If He sees His nature in us, then He will say, “Come ye blessed of my Father. I am the natural Son; you are the adopted son. Come unto the kingdom prepared for you.” If, however, he looks and does not see that likeness of nature, as a mother knows the neighbor’s child is not her own, so the lord will say, “I know you not.” It is a terrible thing not to be known by God. – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
What is that likeness of nature that Archbishop Sheen speaks of? It is that which is found on the cross. A man whom we deemed to be suffering from punishment for some wrong done. In relation to the world he was a criminal. And His crime was to be unworldly. As we look upon Him we see pain instead of pleasure. We see poverty instead of wealth. We see helplessness instead of power. We see humility in lowliness instead of honor. We see someone who has separated Himself from all that this world holds so dear. We see someone who has done something that no one in the world has ever done; He overcame death. And He invites us all to do the same.
By not separating ourselves from those potentially enslaving misused things that would be our gods and which bind us to this world, we will experience not one but two deaths; one of body and one of soul. When we control that which would control us we die but once. And for one whose soul is unbounded by worldly restraints we then free ourselves to truly live the life that Christ has promised through the event of His resurrection. We will do what He has done.
When we stand before Christ’s judgment we will hear one of three things from Him; “I know you, I know you somewhat, or I know you not.” The category in which each of us falls will depend upon our likeness to Christ determined by our disposition toward this life. That likeness which is revealed on the cross. How much of Himself that He sees in us will determine the response that we will receive. We will be overjoyed to be among those in first two categories. For those known in complete likeness will enter God’s house immediately and those known somewhat, through God’s mercy, will enter the city of God after a period of purification. And to be among those in the third group will be the saddest of moments. For when we are in His incomprehensible glorious presence for but that instant of determined recognition, we will then know why faith and hope in His will were so instrumental in bringing to reality the promise of eternal life in the loving embrace of God.
So now is the time to succeed in the effort of attaining and maintaining the lessons of the cross. The purpose of which is to avoid the tragic regret of being found among the unknown.