What is the catholic teaching on the world coming to the end?
Jun 03, 2015
Asked at 03:28 am on June 03rd 2015
Dear Patty, if you can get hold of a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, you’ll find all you need in the paragraphs from 668 to 679, and from 988 to 1014 for the resurrection of the body.
Jesus of course prophesied about the end of the world, but warned us not to rush to judgment on when that would happen. He describes situations that have occurred at various times since his death and resurrection – wars and rumours of wars, false prophets and pseudo-Christs, and finally, huge astrophysical events in the sun, moon and stars.
But he also warns, ‘as for that day and hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.’ (Mt 24, 36). And he explains the meaning of the continual ‘end signs’ as a helpful warning to us all that our own ‘last days’ are never too far away: ‘So, stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming’ (Mt 24, 42).
Catholic teaching is quite clear: each of us will have our ‘end times’ when we die, a time unknown to us, but best treated as something that could happen any time – that’s why Jesus warns us to ‘stay awake,’ ready to meet Our Lord at any moment. The best way to do this is to live each moment for Him (a little prayer like ‘for you, Jesus’ is one way of keeping this in mind).
At our death, we’ll face what the Church calls ‘the particular judgment,’ which is when we become crystal clear before God just how we have been living for him or not living for him. What the ‘general judgment’ means is that at the Last Day, when the Son of Man will appear, the whole human family will be brought together for its final reckoning with God, with those who have tried to live according to his will united with their risen bodies in heaven.
This final judgment has been clearly spelt out by Jesus in his very clear foretelling of the Last Judgment in Mt 25, 31-46. It’s obvious there that Jesus is leaking us the ‘exam questions’ so that we can pass that final exam with flying colours. As St John of the Cross puts it, ‘in the evening of our lives, we’ll be examined on love.’
Very best, Fr Brendan Purcell
Replied at 07:19 am on July 07th 2015