Collect of the Day:
Father of our freedom and salvation, hear the prayers of those redeemed by your Son’s suffering. Through you may we have life; with you may we have eternal joy.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.
The First Reading: Acts of the Apostles: 13:26-33: God has fulfilled His promise by raising Jesus from the dead.
The Gospel: John: 14:10-6: I am the Way the Truth and the Life.
Today we continue our study and reflection on the ‘Four Last Things’. Yesterday we began our study with a discourse on Death, today we move to the second of the Last Things:
Judgement: Judgement like death is often a sensitive subject to bring up with people. It evokes all sorts of connotations of exclusivity, elitism and condemnation. Though this is not the type of judgement that we are discussing here. We are not talking about one person or institution passing judgement on others in regards to worth or manner of living. For we are told by Our Blessed Lord:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
This almost parallels one of the petitions in the Our Father or Lord’s Prayer:
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Here again we are warned that the mercy we show to others is the mercy we should expect to receive from God. This petition is said daily by millions of Christians, I often wonder if they realise the magnitude of what they are actually saying. Asking to be treated by God the way they treat those who offend them. This in itself could be the subject of a whole series of reflections.
Although taking the above into consideration, judgement is a subject that cannot be ignored by the serious follower of Christ. It is a clear teaching of Christ and His Bride the Church, as much as is His love, tolerance and forgiveness. Christianity is not a lucky dip, we cannot choose to agree with Jesus when he pleases our sensibilities and ignore what He says when it is challenging or does not fall within the thought patterns of popular thinking.
In fact Christ’s teachings on this subject can be quite awe inspiring:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world….” Matthew 25:31-34
“You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”
Also every week at Holy Mass we say in the Creed :
‘He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.’
When we look deeply into the subject, we find that God’s judgement is tightly connected to His Divine Mercy. In society and our daily living we often see and hear of the problem that many people die as victims before obtaining justice and that some monstrous criminals seem to enjoy long and prosperous lives. If God is all powerful, true, merciful and loving, then it would only seem logical to require that the scales of justice balance out in eternity, because they do not always balance out for individuals before death.
The Church’s teaching on judgement is that each person immediately after death is rewarded according to the quality of his or her faith and life. Through this ‘Particular Judgement’ every individual gains entrance into the blessedness of Heaven, either immediately or through the purification of Purgatory, or is condemned to everlasting damnation (a subject to be debated in more depth latter in this series).
Scripture also teaches as we spoke of above that Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, this judgement on the Last Day of all who have ever lived is referred to as the ‘General Judgement.’ So once again I remind you of the importance of the every day decisions that we make and the effect that they will have on our eternal well being. It is never too late to turn back to God and receive His Divine Mercy, for God is one who always welcomes and never rejects. So do not despair and rest assured that Love and Justice will have the last word.
Open our eyes that we may see the needs of others;
Open our ears that we may hear their cries;
Open our hearts that we may feel their anguish and their joy.
Let us not be afraid to defend the oppressed, the poor, the powerless, because of the anger and might of the powerful.
Show us where love and hope and faith are needed, and use us to bring them to those places.
Open our ears and eyes, our hearts and lives, that we may in these coming days be able to do some work of justice and peace for you. Amen.