Saturday, November 27, 2010

"Judged By What They Had Done"

I was just reflecting on the reading from Revelation chapter 20 from last Friday's Mass [my focus is in blue].

[11] Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. [12] And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. [13] And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done. [14] Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; [15] and if any one's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

I was reflecting on judgment and how our acts determine where our souls end up. We are constantly in a spiritual fluctuation--our good acts draw us closer to God; our bad acts draw us farther away, and our really bad acts cut us off from God.

When we die, we will be judged by the current state of our souls. We too often think (or are led to think) of judgment as God looking for any way He can prevent us from Heaven.

Our current pope, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote Eschatology--a magnificent book that explains an understanding of the last things (death, Judgment, Heaven & Hell). He describes judgment as a lack of salvation. Here are some of my notes from that section:

• Christ Himself is sheer salvation. Perdition is not imposed by Him, but comes to be wherever a person distances himself from Christ.

• In death, a human being takes the place which is truly his by right.

• The masquerade of the living with its constant retreat behind posturings and fictions, is now over . . . Judgment consists in [the] removal of the mask in death. [206]

• Man is what he is in truth. Judgment simply manifests the truth.

•The true frontier between life & death does not lie in biological dying, but in the distinction between being with the One who is life and the isolation which refuses such "being-with." [This one is another topic and deserves its own discussion . . . maybe a future post . . .]

•Man becomes his own judgment. Christ does not allot damnation. Instead, man sets limits to salvation. [207]

Salvation is freely offered to us. We are fully capable of accepting it (free will), but we are also fully capable of rejecting it too. We can act to reject the salvation offered to us (sin).

Judgment isn't an unjust accusation. Judgment is a revelation of the truth. We will have no ability to hide behind a false front. Ultimately, judgment just reveals where we are. It distinguishes between who is really "with" God and who is just faking being with God, or who has outright rejected being with Him. Only those who are truly "with" God at their deaths will remain "with" God for eternity.

Our spiritual fluctuation ceases when we die. At that moment, one's spirit separates from his body and it is set on where it will go. There will be no ability to use one's body to hide behind external showings and fake a relationship with God. It will either be present or it won't.

By each and every one of our acts, we either draw deeper into a relationship with God, or farther from Him. Those acts are the basis of our relationship with Him and are the matter on which we will be judged.

We will be judged by what we have done, and many of the things which we should or should not do are written down so that we know how best to stay in good relationship with God. Some of the best examples of these are the 10 Commandments [Catechism of the Catholic Church 2052-2557], the 7 capitol sins and their opposite virtues, and the 3rd section of the Catechism: Life in Christ [CCC 1691-2557].

Trying to act rightly and repenting from the times when I do not,

- Casey

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