Final Judgment

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Simplified

« prev : next »

For All (1038-1040)

The Last Judgment is "the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear the Son of Man's voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment" (Jn 5:28-29). Matthew's Gospel speaks of angels gathering all the nations, with those on Christ's right (the sheep) going into eternal life, and those on Christ's left (the goats) going into eternal punishment (25:31, 32, 46).

In the presence of Christ (Truth himself), the person's relationship to God will be laid bare. Everything will be revealed, the good that the person has done or has failed to do. Augustine portrays Jesus saying to the wicked, "You have placed nothing in the hands of the poor; therefore you have found nothing in my presence."

The Father will determine the time when Christ returns in glory. Through Jesus, the Father will then pronounce the final word of history, revealing the whole purpose of creation. Then we will see that his justice has triumphed over man's injustices.

A Help to Conversion (1041)

The Last Judgment calls us to conversion. Each day is "an acceptable time of salvation" (2 Cor 6:2). This truth inspires a holy fear, a commitment to justice, and also a hope, because the Lord will "be glorified in his saints" (2 Thess 1:10).

The Renewal of All Creation (1042-1044)

After the Final Judgment, the righteous will reign with Christ and the universe will be renewed. "The universe itself, so closely related to man, will be perfectly reestablished in Christ" (Second Vatican Council).

Scripture calls this mysterious renewal "new heavens and a new earth" (2 Pet 3:13), a summing up of "all things in Christ" (Eph 1:10). There will be no more death nor crying in pain, for the "former things have passed away" (Rev 21:4).

The Unity of the Human Race (1045)

There will be the final and complete unity of the human race. Those united with Christ will be his community, "the Bride, the wife of the lamb" (Rev 21:29). Sins will be no more. All will enjoy the beatific vision, by which God opens himself to the elect as man's everlasting happiness.

Unity with Creation (1046)

Man and material creation have a common destiny. "Creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay. Not only creation, but we ourselves... groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons" (Rom 8:19-23). The visible universe will be transformed, "restored to its original state, and sharing in man's glorification in the risen Jesus Christ" (St. Irenaeus).

How or When? (1047-1050)

We know neither the time nor the way of this transformation. We do know that the form of this world is passing away and that God is preparing a new earth. Although earthly progress is certainly distinct from the increase of Christ's kingdom, this progress is vital to the kingdom by contributing to the ordering of human society (Second Vatican Council).

All the fruits of our earthly enterprise will be cleansed and transfigured when Christ presents an eternal kingdom to his Father. "Thanks to his mercy, we too, men that we are, have received the inalienable promise of eternal life" (St. Cyril of Jerusalem).

The Meaning of "Amen" (1061-1062)

The Creed, the Bible, New Testament prayers, and Church petitions end with the Hebrew word "Amen." "Amen" and "believe" both mean trustworthiness and faithfulness. "Amen" expresses God's faithfulness to us and our trust in him.

"Amen" and "I Believe" (1063-1065)

Jesus frequently said "Amen, amen," emphasizing the trustworthiness of his words. The Creed's final "amen" repeats its opening words "I believe." "May your Creed be as your mirror. See if you believe everything you say you believe" (St. Augustine).

Jesus Christ is the definitive "Amen." "All the promises of God find their Yes in him" (2 Cor 1:20).

« prev : next »