That the judgment of God would come upon the world and all created things is as consoling as it is very scary. Consoling because God will then put to an end the power of the evil one and all evil doers. He will extinguish death, crime, injustice, oppression, sickness and suffering, hunger and disease. We will have no further need for prison walls to keep the criminals away from us, law courts to adjudicate cases, hospitals to scare us with diagnoses of cancer and heart disease, army to fight terrorists in Afghanistan and Syria, ISIS to plant bombs on our planes and buses. The justice of God will bring these to a complete halt.
On the other hand, God’s judgment and even the thought of it could be scary. Scary because the judgment will come upon us and all mankind. It will come upon groups, nations, civilizations, etc. It won’t be just for our enemies: those we consider and call evil. Each and every one of us will be judged. There will be no lawyer to hire for our defense, no judge to bribe. The Just Judge will bring corrupt judges and lawyers to judgment. Kennedy, Roberts, Thomas, Sotomayor, and the rest will have their day before the Supreme Just Judge.
The first reading from the prophecy of Daniel informs us that it is going to be a time of great distress, unparalleled since nations first came into existence. Mention is made of the Archangel Michael who is the guardian of God’s people and the great destroyer of the evil one. He is the one to whom it belongs to see that all whose names are written in the Book of Life will be spared; while shame, horror and everlasting disgrace will be the lot of those who have not kept faith.
Should we be afraid of God’s judgment? Yes and no. Yes, because it puts into focus the choice we make between good and evil, right and wrong. Certainly, the holy fear of God and his judgment should move us to live lives pleasing to him each day, as though tomorrow would be the last day. Yet again, we should not be afraid because Jesus Himself will be the judge. Isn’t He the one whom we invoke everyday as our defense attorney, as the one who pleads our cause, our defender before God? (I John 2:1). No attorney is happy to lose a case and have a client charged as guilty. She will do all within her power and wit to gain freedom for the accused. Similarly, all who invoke the Son of God and truly follow his counsel will gain total freedom and enjoy everlasting bounty with the Father. Corroborating this evidence, the Letter to the Hebrews, in Chapter 4, verse 7 says that Jesus “offered prayers and entreaties (for us) with loud cries and tears to God.” The same Letter to the Hebrews speaks of Christ as the one “who is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he forever lives to make intercessions for them” (Heb 7:25). Above all, He is the mediator of the New Covenant, because his death has taken place for the deliverance from the transgressions we committed (Heb 9:15). We are invited to put our hope and confidence in Jesus, following his ways; and as a consequence, we would need have no fear of judgment. How about those who reject him, mock him, and drive him away from their lives and other peoples’ lives? They will surely face severe judgment. Everlasting shame, horror and disgrace will befall them (Daniel 12:2).
On this Sunday preceding the solemn feast of Christ the King and the end of the liturgical year, we are reminded about the end. But by saying that no one knows the time, not even Himself, Jesus politely tells us not to spend our lives speculating about the time or following the likes of Jim Jones, David Koresh and other doomsday alarmists. Instead, we should stand ready, praying at all times, that God may deliver us and all called by Him from evil or becoming trapped by current day cynicism, which considers the mockery of faith an exercise of freedom.
Fr. Chukwudi Jo Okonkwo