Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
“That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord,’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Luke 20:37-38
As we draw close to the end of this Church year, our readings begin to focus more clearly upon the final things to come. The following is an excerpt from My Catholic Faith!, Chapter 5, regarding the resurrection of the dead:
The third and final coming is when Jesus returns to Earth in splendor and glory. It will be “the end of the world as we know it.” It will be a time when His permanent Kingdom is established. There is much to say about this moment in history and it is actually quite fascinating to reflect upon.
Before you read on, open the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read paragraphs #671-677.
Wow! That’s good stuff! It almost reads as a deeply intriguing futuristic science fiction mystery novel. The only difference is that it’s all true, it’s all glorious, and it’s all beyond any mystery we will ever be able to comprehend until it actually takes place. And it will take place at one definitive moment in time to come!
So what does this all mean? It means that Jesus will be returning in all His splendor and glory. He will physically return to Earth one day radiant and glorious. We will see Him, and the world as we currently know it will come to an end. At that moment in time God will establish His permanent Kingdom and both Heaven and Earth will be united as one. It will be “a new Heaven and a new Earth” (Revelation 21:1). The former Heaven and Earth will pass away and the new order will be established.
But that’s not all! At that moment in time all the dead shall rise. That’s right, all people who have ever died will rise. This means that everybody who has been “laid to rest” in a cemetery or elsewhere will be brought back to life, given a new glorified body, and that body will be rejoined to his or her soul.
The Catechism also states:
When he comes at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, the glorious Christ will reveal the secret disposition of hearts and will render to each man according to his works and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace. (#682)
This is a fascinating thought, and a bit scary, too! It means that all that is hidden will come to light. This can be good or bad depending upon what is hidden. The thought should both fill us with a bit of holy fear, and it should also fill us with a holy joy. The holy fear is actually a gift from God to help us eliminate any secret and hidden sin we have now or have struggled with in the past. Since it will in fact all come to light one day, we might as well deal with it now so that our sin is no more. If we do, even our sin is turned into virtue and grace. And then, at the end of time, that grace and virtue is what will be made manifest. This manifestation of our virtue will be the cause of holy joy not only for us but also for others to whom it is manifested.
We will be judged, then, based on what is there within our conscience. It will no longer just be exterior. We will not be able to put on a good face and pretend we are someone we are not. The full truth will come out and will be made manifest for all to see in accord with God’s plan.
Another thing to note is that at the Final Judgment even those who are in Hell will rise. Why? Because as humans we are meant to eternally be united with our bodies. We are, in essence, body and soul. So even the dead will receive their bodies back. But sadly, they will then suffer eternally not only spiritually but also physically. What this actually entails we do not know. But it will be a real pain of loss. Loss of God and loss in that the body and soul will not be able to share in life with God. This can seem harsh and unfair but we should remind ourselves that God is perfectly just and perfectly loving and however this eternal loss and eternal suffering is lived, it is right and just.
What will this new life look like for those who share in the Resurrection to new life? It will be life with God, physically and spiritually, as well as life with each other. The Book of Revelation speaks symbolically of this new life as a city where God is on the throne in the center of the city. Light shines forth from Him so there is no need for the sun or moon. The streets are gold. The gates filled with precious stones. And so much more. This symbolic language should not be taken literally, rather, it should be seen as imagery that helps us understand the beauty, splendor, and magnificence of the life that awaits us. It’s the new Heavens and new Earth. I can’t wait!
Lord, may I always be ready to greet You when You come. I thank You for Your perfect promise of raising all from the dead and bringing forth new life. Use me to gather many into this future and glorious Kingdom, dear Lord. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day – Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor
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