As we near the end of the Church year and approach the season of Advent, the readings have been increasingly focused on the Lord’s return. This week, Jesus teaches that his disciples will be persecuted as a necessary prelude to the “parousia,” that is, the Lord’s return (Luke 21:5-29). Through their perseverance, they will emerge victorious when the Lord comes again (Malachi 3:19-20, Psalm 98:5-9). As we await the Day of Days, we must conscientiously, faithfully, and lovingly fulfill our Christian duties and obligations (2 Thess 3:7-12).
There are two judgments we must acknowledge:
The Particular Judgment: The eternal retribution received by each soul at the moment
of death, in accordance with that person's faith and works. (Catechism) Retribution”
sounds like punishment or revenge. However the Latin meaning of "re tribuere” simply
means giving back, or paying someone what is due. We will all, each of us, stand before the Lord at our own particular judgment to give an accounting of our lives.
There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.” (C.S. Lewis)
The Last Judgment: God's triumph over the revolt of evil, after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world. Preceded by the resurrection of the dead, it will coincide with the second coming of Christ in glory at the end of time, disclose good and evil, and reveal the meaning of salvation history and the providence of God by which justice has triumphed over evil. (Catechism)
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’” (C.S. Lewis)
What is the Resurrection of the Dead? The raising of the righteous, who will live for- ever with the risen Christ, on the last day. The eleventh article of the Christian creed states, I believe in the resurrection of the body.” The resurrection of the body means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our mortal bodies” (Rom 8:11) will come to life again. (Catechism) This is one reason we treat the bodies of our deceased with great care, they will rise again in glory.
Even if the body is cremated we treat the remains with dignity and bury them, it is forbid- den for Catholics to scatter the ashes, make jewelry out of the ashes, and/or keep the ashes in the home, because of our Faith in the resurrection. We are dust, and to dust we shall return, but the Lord Jesus will transform our bodies to be like his in glory... [He] will raise up our brother/sister on the Last Day.” (Rite of Committal)
What is Heaven? Eternal life with God; communion of life and love with the Trinity and all the blessed. This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity—this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed—is called heaven.” Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness. (CCC 1024)
This mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all understanding and description. Scripture speaks of it in images: life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine of the kingdom, the Fathers house, the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise: no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (CCC 1027)
At the final judgment and the resurrection of the dead, not only will the blessed be in heaven in spirit, or soul, but also in body.
At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. Then the just will reign with Christ for ever, glorified in body and soul, and the material universe itself will be transformed. God will then be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28), in eternal life.” (CCC 1060)
Father Robert Letona