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What will we be judged on? Jesus tells us very clearly

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Aleksander Bańka - published on 03/15/24

In the Gospel, Jesus tells us clearly how he will judge us. It’s not about how many hours we pray. It’s about how we love others.

The Last Judgment is a very mysterious matter. We know that it will occur sometime in the indeterminable future, at the end of time, and will involve the Second Coming of Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs us that,

“In the presence of Christ, who is Truth itself, the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare. The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life …” (CCC 1039). 

For those who have previously departed this world — the vast multitudes of people living at various points in history, who have died and already been judged at the moment of death (particular judgment) — this will not be a change of judgment. Rather, it will be a final seal confirming their fate in eternity.

For those who live to see the day of judgment, it will be the defining moment for their future. 

However, it is impossible to avoid the question of what exactly the subject of our judgment will be. What criterion will God use to separate the good from the bad and invite the former to eternal happiness with Himself?

Well, contrary to what some people might believe, this very criterion has been clearly communicated to us; Jesus described it very precisely.

Love in action

In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, we can find a telling and evocative picture of the final judgment that Jesus conveys to His listeners (cf. Matthew 25:31-46). He speaks of the fact that when the Son of Man comes again in his glory and gathers all nations before him, he will separate the good from the bad, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

What will he be guided by? Not at all by the number of theological treatises we’ve read, or the fiery sermons or edifying testimonies we’ve given, or how many hours we’ve spent in prayer or church services, or the time spent in devotional reading or spiritual conversations. For all of this is only meant to help us love more, and our love should manifest itself in a practical and effective response to the needs of the “least of these.”

Touching the Son of God

In his teaching, Jesus calls blessed those who care for the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the naked, the sick and those in prison. He calls cursed those who do not. Of course, the list of these “least of these” and their needs is not closed. The Greek word ἐλἀχίστος (elachistos)—very small, the smallest—when applied to people, means not only one who is of small stature, but also someone who is weak, helpless, arousing pity, in need of help. It is with such people that Jesus identifies the most, which means that the way we treat them, how we respond to their basic, vital needs, is equivalent to the way we would treat the Son of God.

This is moving and shocking at the same time. For it may turn out that if our faith and piety are not in the service of such an understanding of love, they are of no use to us.

St. John of the Cross was right when he wrote that at the end of our lives we will be judged on love.

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DeathJesus ChristSpirituality
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