Most people fear the Last Judgment, whilst a few see it as good news…
What is the Last Judgment about? Is it to fear? Guidelines from Rev. Fr. Pierre Gazeau in a brief interview by Guillaumes Desanges, for RCF (national French Catholic Radio).
Why are we often ill at ease with regards the Last Judgment?
It could be due to the justice of men here on earth, which punishes people who have perpetuated transgressions. However, the Last Judgment is a different matter. At the end of times, God will examine all. When we examine a film or a dish, we are able to assess whether or not it is a good one. Thus it provides an inkling of the Judgment of God, who will assess every perpetuated act together with its consequences. So it’s not necessarily bad news.
Is it a personal judgment?
With death, the individual judgment takes place. It relates to the choice we have made to be for or against God. It is congruent with the call of God who receives us, or is prevented to do so by the hardness of our heart. Nevertheless, beyond the particular judgment, our deeds continue to have consequences. The last judgment will review both our acts together with their subsequent wicked or worthy consequences. For example, someone establishes a school and dies. Even though he passed away, the school continues to bear fruit. It will be taken into account during the Last Judgment (also known as the Universal Judgment).
Does such a perspective make us more accountable for our acts?
The Last Judgment brings home that our acts have consequences and that they matter. Jansenism insisted on evil and its consequences. Thus, it sowed the belief that God is utterly severe and thus, the fear of his judgment. But God’s judgment is total love and truth. God is greater than our heart. We shall not judge ourselves, God will. He will examine everything in total light.
If all our acts are brought to light, does it entail that everyone will see them?
This perspective might be fearsome, yet it is also rather a beautiful one. For Jesus says “But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God” (Jn 3). This illustrates not only that we are free in the choices we make but that everything will be known: ” Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.”(Lk 12, 3).
The good that we shall have done, and its consequences that people will have appreciated, will be out in the open, known by all. It will be gratifying. It will be gratifying for us. As for evil, all will also see it but they shall not stare with rebuke, rather with meekness, in front of the person who did evil but who repented, asked for forgiveness, atoned and chose God. When we meet someone who converts, we are not judging that person but rather we marvel at her humility. Take the penitent thief, who would think of judging him? No one takes into consideration his mischiefs, quite the contrary, one perceives the meekness with which he finally turned to the Lord and asked for his help. Thus will the gaze be at the time of the Last Judgement.
Will the last judgement help satisfied the longing for justice that inhabits people?
With the final judgement, God get things back into order. In the “Credo” prayer, we say that we await for Our Lord to come back in glory. This return encompasses judgment, the resurrection of the dead and the regeneration of the cosmos.
We are all in need of justice. For example, if we get robbed, we expect restitution and to be asked for forgiveness. We expect order to be reinstated. Yet, in the world, the justice of men does not hit the target. Thus, the last judgment is exceedingly advantageous, for God comes and restores the mayhem instigated by sin, and thus, meets and quench our thirst for justice.
Will we be rewarded for our good deeds?
The last judgement takes every thing into account and Jesus will reward accordingly. Like we get wages for the work we do, we shall receive a joy in proportion to the good accomplished. Moreover it will radiate through our glorious body.
Our glorious body, which we will receive at the time of the resurrection of the dead, will make manifest who we are as well as reveal the whole of our life. It will be a source of tremendous joy to all. Such is the reward that God will bestow at the end of times.