There has been a modern resurgence in universalism, the belief that all people will ultimately be saved,” or “that hell means annihilation, not eternal punishment.”1
Or sometimes one may not see why there should be a last judgement, because the last judgement will not bring any reversal of the particular judgement. True, but it will manifest it and confirm it in front of the countless billions who ever lived.
Ezekiel 34:17 from our First Reading, “I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.”
Time is linear. Reincarnation is a concept embraced by Hinduism and Buddhism, but time is linear, moving in one direction towards the culmination in history in God.
We pray at the Penitential Rite, “and in what I have failed to do.”
What a person precisely lacks has an existential character. God’s repeated calling to choose the Good that chose me was rejected. The condemnation that comes from God is a judgment about who I am. The call of the Good does not awaken in me a response of choosing the good but causes an all the more resolute choice of evil. The state of despair does not befall man without his consent. However, man does not choose despair for himself as despair. Despair comes when man chooses evil and does this against the Good that has elected him. But the soul cannot be killed. The condemned exist in hell forever.
Of the twelve uses of the term «hell» in the New Testament, in every case except one (James 3:6) the person who used it is the Lord Jesus Christ.2
Catechism 1033 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor.”
The King dismisses those on his left into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels because they did not do the six actions that those on the right had done.
Feeding the hungry
Giving drink to the thirsty
Clothing the naked
Caring for the ill
Visiting those in prison
In Paul’s understanding of the Christian faith, it would be unthinkable that a Christian could properly confess, «I have been saved.» At the most the Christian can assert that he is in the process of being saved.3
The Church is always trying to come to us from the future.4
Fritz Eichenberg’s famous wood cut “Christ of the Breadlines” depicts a line of downtrodden men waiting for food. In the midst of the group stands Christ. Was Christ literally there in the flesh? Did the folks passing out the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches actually serve Christ? Did the hungry men see themselves as Christ? We may find the answer at the end of Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus says, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (25:40). Actually, as each man was served, Christ was served.5
Now let me leave you a banner word, a word to internalize for Christ the King Sunday:
“Joy is the banner flying high over the castle of my heart when the King is in residence there.”6
1. David J. MacLeod, The sixth ‘Last thing’: the last judgment, Bibliotheca sacra, 157 no 627, 2000, p 315-330
2. Ibid. MacLeod
3. Karl Paul Donfried, Justification and last judgment in Paul, Interpretation, 30 no 2 Apr 1976, p 140-152
4. Diana Butler Bass, quoting Mary Rakow, A Movement of Inclusion, The Center for Action and Contemplation
5. Mary Lynne Rapien, 4/26/2020, Franciscan Media.org
6. Maxie D. Dunnam, The Preacher’s Commentary, Vol. 31