The End of Time

November 26, 2023
The Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

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Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” Matthew 25:31–33

Happy Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe! The Church liturgical year is set up in such a way that we ponder the entire life of Christ in different seasons and at different times. Advent is a preparation for the celebration of the first coming of Christ that also focuses upon the final coming. Christmas is a time to celebrate the Incarnation when the Son of God was made manifest to the world through His birth. Lent and Easter focus upon the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, and Ordinary Time presents us with the many lessons and miracles of Jesus’ public ministry. Additionally there are many special memorials, feasts and solemnities by which we intensely focus upon some particular person or aspect of our faith. Each feast and season is meant to help us delve more deeply into the mystery of faith that we celebrate.

This is the final Sunday of our Church year. Our focus today is the end of time when Jesus will return again to judge the living and the dead and establish His permanent and glorious Kingdom, visible to all. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes this moment in time this way:

The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory. Only the Father knows the day and the hour; only he determines the moment of its coming. Then through his Son Jesus Christ he will pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of creation and of the entire economy of salvation and understand the marvelous ways by which his Providence led everything towards its final end. The Last Judgment will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God’s love is stronger than death (#1040).

God is truly a mystery. He is the greatest of mysteries. As a mystery, God is forever the unknown in the sense that He is endless and eternal. He has revealed Himself to us but we will forever enter deeper into our knowledge of Him because of His infinite and endless nature. This is important to understand because when we contemplate the many mysteries God has revealed, we must approach them as both known and unknown. Our solemnity today is one of those mysteries. 

Of this great moment in time, we know that the Son of God will return to earth to issue forth His final judgment upon all the living and the dead. It will be the final moment of time as we know it now. The dead will rise and our bodies and souls will be reunited. The just will enter the glorious New Heavens and Earth. Those in mortal sin will be condemned for eternity. The world will no longer be a fallen world. All illness and disorder in nature will be eliminated. Peace will ensue and perfect order will be established. God will be the universal King and will govern this new world forever.

As we celebrate this glorious mystery of our faith, we must accept and believe all that we know about it. But as we do, we must also approach it with deep humility, admitting to ourselves that we will never fully comprehend the awesomeness of that day until it comes. No earthly concept will ever come close to fully describing that moment in time, but we must adhere to our belief in it with a profound and unwavering faith.

Reflect, today, with a deep faith, upon this glorious and definitive moment in time still to come. On that day, all that will matter is how faithful you have been to the will of God. Your charity will become an open book for all to see, and the rewards for your charity will remain with you forever. As you think about that day with faith, allow it to encourage you to do all you can today to prepare for the Last Judgment. When that day comes, it will be too late to change. Get ready today and tomorrow and every day of your life so that when Jesus does return in all His glory, it will be the most glorious day of your life.

Most glorious and universal King of the Universe, I believe and profess with a firm faith that You will return again to judge the living and the dead and will establish Your glorious Kingdom that will never end. Please help me to understand the greatness of that moment and to do all I can, every day of my life, to prepare for it so that it is, indeed, the beginning of the best day of my life. Jesus, I trust in You.

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Further Reading – Christ the King

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Featured image above: The Last Judgment – painting by Joos van Cleve, via Wikimedia Commons