Chapter 24 – Judgment and what comes after
XXIV Judgment and What Comes After (click to download)
Our last end is one of these two: heaven or hell. There is no other alternative. Either we shall be forever happy with God, the angels, and saints, in heaven; or we shall be miserable for all eternity with the devils and damned in hell. Our first end is the service of God now, while we are living on earth. We are created to know, love, and serve God. By doing this faithfully—striving after our first end—we do what is necessary to reach our last end. It all depends on knowing, loving, and serving god well, now. Let us not forget this.
Our working for heaven ends with death. “When the tree falleth, to the north or to the south, in what place soever it shall fall, there shall it be.” After death comes the judgment. “It is appointed for men once to die, and after this, the judgment,” says St. Paul. This thought of judgment, my dear children, must engage our-attention for a few minutes.
The Following of Christ admonishes us: “In all things look to the end, and how thou wilt stand before the strict Judge, from whom there is nothing hid: who takes no bribes, and receives no excuses, but will judge that which is just.”
Three young men, once upon a time, were making a journey. They were in the holy land of Palestine, and on their way they came to the valley of Josaphat.
“Hold, comrades!” said one of them—a light-headed infidel. “here, they say, is where the Last Judgment is going to be. Priest talk so much about it, I guess, as I am here just now, I will look for a handy place to sit, so that, when the Day of Judgment is come I may a good chance to take in everything, and see what is going on. Here is an excellent place—a stone to mark it. I can sit on this stone and have clear view over the whole valley. This shall be my place.
And he laughed, he thought the idea was so original; and his two companions laughed with him.
But something happened. That same moment the young man had a vision. He saw Jesus Christ, the Judge; and terrible was His appearance, terrible the majesty of that divine countenance, terrifying the look of anger that fell upon the young man. It makes him tremble; he grows pale as death; he staggers and falls to the ground; and there he lies, unconscious. After a time his companions succeeded in waking him.
“What is the matter? What has happened?” they ask.
He sighs; he weeps; he still trembles violently. “Oh, comrades, it was terrible! I saw the Judge! That look! Let us never make fun of the Judgment again.”
And the story concludes by telling us that the young man never made fun again. He never even laughed. Till his death he led a severe life of penance.
Ah, yes; it is a terrible thought—the judgment! My little followers of Jesus, after death we shall all be judged. You will stand alone before you Judge. It is no longer the kind, meek, and humble Jesus. Now He is the strict Judge, who knows only justice. And you must answer for yourself, alone. The Judge knows all—all the good and bad that you did in thought, word, and action during your life on earth. The sentence will be one or the other. If you come as the friend of Jesus, you will here: “Come, thou blessed one!” but if you stand before the Judge as His enemy, He will say: “Depart from Me, thou accursed one!” Oh, this sentence, what will it be!
The Last Day of Judgment will come; also. Then you will have to stand on one side or the other, either the right or the left. Then you will be judged again before all men: they will see both the good and the bad that you have done; and they will all have to say: “Thy judgments, O Lord, are just!” And then you will hear the sentence again—one of the two, the same that was spoken to you immediately after your death. And then comes the beginning of your last end—either an everlasting heaven, or an everlasting hell. This, my children, is truth: we cannot gainsay it!
Should we not, then, prepare ourselves for this judgment? Yes; let us judge ourselves now, that we may be able to stand the judgment then. Let us avoid sin now. If we have sinned (unfortunately we have!) let us confess our sins, and do penance for them; on the Last Day it will be too late. Let us do good now, for then we shall be able to work no longer. Let us suffer now, that we may not have to suffer then. Let us receive the sacraments often while we can, and worthily, lest we shall wish to have done so when it is too late.
“In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin,” says the Holy Ghost. To this add a word from Thomas a Kempis: “He that loveth God with his whole heart fearth neither death, nor punishment, nor judgment, nor hell; for perfect love giveth secure access to God.”