Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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End Times Perspective — Last Judgment — Part II

August 28th, 2019, Promulgated by Diane Harris

End Times Perspective — Last Judgment — Part II

By the end of Last Judgment — Part I we had noted that the corporal works test of Matthew Chapter 25 is addressed to “The Nations,” which term historically did not include Israel. We also noted that the Catholic has far greater obligations still; i.e. to Keep the Commandments, ALL the Commandments given by Christ and His Church. Perhaps we might view excelling in the Corporal Works of Mercy, without knowing anything about God, as an absolute minimum performance for a human being. For how can a soul love God if not one’s own brother? How can one love his brother without responding to his needs? But it would seem that for the Catholic Christian and the Jew, both in Covenantal relationships with God, that the corporal works test of Matthew Chapter 25 is necessary, but not sufficient, and is evidence of Faith but not an entry ticket to Faith, which is a gift.

We know little about Abram, son of Terah and descendant of Noah, being called out of Ur, but he likely was in a substantially polytheistic culture. Yet, there must have been something in Abraham’s life leading to God’s giving him a singular role in the salvation of mankind. Perhaps it was as straightforward as simply responding to God’s Call.

We can see the evidence of Abram’s character: his kindness in taking the fatherless Lot with him from Ur, his giving Lot a choice of territory, his hospitality to the three visitors, his intervention to try to save Sodom, his dedication to rescuing his nephew, his willingness and humility to tithe through one greater than himself, his dedication to providing a proper burial place for his wife and himself, his steadfast trust in God’s promises, and especially his obedience to God’s directive to sacrifice Isaac. These were not only tests but also strengthening of the Great Patriarch for his role, revealed slowly over his lifetime. But notice how the threads of corporal and spiritual works run through the story of Abraham. Notice his ‘heart.’

Lest we be tempted to give short shrift to Abraham’s accomplishments by saying “Aaahh! But he was talking to God directly,” let’s remember so are we, if we are praying. “But Abraham was in physical contact with God.” So are we, through receiving the Holy Eucharist. Moreover, God gave us a book in case we forget. He gave us redemption through the blood sacrifice of His only begotten Son, a Church to help us believe and obey, a priesthood to whom to confess and begin anew, and His Holy Spirit as Advocate to be with us until the end of time. Abraham and his generations awaited the Messiah; we await the Messiah’s return. AND, we know Who He is!

For Abraham, his adherence in many ways to what was not yet given to Moses, prefigures the Judaic Law, with the major emphasis on obedience to God, in a world permeated by the lure and culture of idolatry. It is not that love is absent under the Old Testament; rather, it is hidden to a large degree. Love of neighbor is expressed through Moses in the Ten Commandments in the negative sense of “Thou shalt not….” Demands of atonement for injury to a neighbor is a matter of law, not particularly of compassion. In the New Testament, love is revealed in the challenge of the Beatitudes. In the New Testament we are called to AND beyond obedience, to the fullness of love. Christ makes clear the proactive aspect of the Corporal Works of Mercy in the story of the Good Samaritan. In the Old Testament, God speaks of David as a man after His own heart. So we come full circle to the thoughts of Last Judgment — Part I  in which God’s Judgment is all about the heart.

Basilica Immaculate Conception, (Mosaic)
Washington DC

Why should there be a seemingly greater emphasis on compassion and love in the New Testament? Perhaps until the total self-sacrificing love of God for His people was exalted upon the Cross, mankind could not fully envision (as if we did now!) love —  the love of God for His people. For Christians, Christ’s words are a flowering of the seeds already given. He says: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Love is the test of faithfulness of the heart, a clear command, without ambiguity. The corporal works of mercy reflect the heart. That also helps us to understand how inappropriate it is to manipulate the work of the heart for political programs and purposes.

 

Which is the Greatest Commandment?

We read the answer in Matthew 22:34-40, a few chapters before the separation of the sheep and the goats:

“But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, to test Him. Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.’”

Notice that these are two commandments, not one. Occasionally we hear preaching which asserts that the second commandment (not to be confused with the numbering of the Ten Commandments) is the ‘same’ as the first, and that there is thus just one “Greatest” Commandment. But that ignores the fact that  the original Greek text uses the word ‘deutero,’ which clearly means ‘second’. Worship of God and care for neighbor simply cannot be equated. Yet the outpouring of love for neighbor is a gift and a fruit of loving God. We might learn this in modern times from Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who cared for the ill and dying with incredible diligence. Yet, for her order, it was mandatory that each member keep an hour of Eucharistic Adoration daily, as the highest priority of all.

The second of the two great commandments given by Christ is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Surely that manifests in the corporal as well as the spiritual works of mercy, and in the state of our hearts before the Judgment Seat of God.

When will Jesus Christ, Son of God, return?

Since the days of St. Paul, when his writings to the Thessalonians (1 Th 4-17) implied an imminent return of Christ, the world has been asking that very question: “When?” People have worked out complex numerical formulae, some visionaries purport to know or at least claim to have received clues. Let’s start by admitting that we don’t know, and that even Christ told us that only the Father knows the answer to that question. Unfortunately some have taken those words to mean we should not search for clues. If that were true, then Christ would not have given us any clues, would He? But he did!

Up until now, we’ve considered being ready for the end times, and in that mindset to approach discussion of end times. In the next post, Part III, we’ll look at some of the biblical clues which Christ has given, and the proximity of our times to fulfilling much of that prophecy. We’ll focus on Mark, Chapter 13, in particular.

 

My intent has been to share thoughts and to stimulate discussion. I claim no authority to teach; only the need to let some overflowing of ideas bubble into cyberspace. If I have erred, please correct me.

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