Vatican City, 11 December 2013 (VIS) – The Pope dedicated his final catechesis on the Creed to its last article: “I believe in life everlasting”, focusing in particular on the final judgement.
“When we think of Christ's return and of His final judgement, which will show, up to the very last consequences, the good that each person will have done or omitted to do during his or her earthly life, we realise that we find ourselves before a mystery that overwhelms us, that we cannot even imagine. A mystery that almost instinctively arouses in us a sense of fear, and perhaps even trepidation. However, if we reflect closely on this fact, it cannot but enlarge the heart of a Christian, and constitutes a great reason for consolation and trust”.
Pope Francis explained that “in this respect, the witness of the first Christian communities is very interesting, since their celebrations and prayers were generally accompanied by the exclamation 'Maranatha', an acclamation made up of two Aramaic words which may be understood either as an entreaty: 'Come, Lord!', or as a certainty nurtured by faith: 'Yes, the Lord is coming, the Lord is near'. It is the exclamation in which all of Christian revelation culminates, at the end of the marvellous contemplation offered in the Apocalypse of St. John … in which the Church, bride in the name of all humanity, turns to Christ, her spouse, in the hope of receiving His embrace, full of life and love. If we think of the judgement in this way, all fear and hesitation makes way for expectation and profound joy. It will be the moment in which we will be judged as finally ready to be clothed in the glory of Christ”.
A second reason for trust is offered to us by “the realisation that, at the moment of judgement, we are not left alone. … How good it is to know that, in that situation, we can count on Christ, our advocate before the father, and upon the intercession and benevolence of many of our brothers and sisters who have preceded us on the path of faith ... and who continue to to love us in an indescribable way! The saints already live in the presence of God, in the splendour of His glory, praying for us, for those who still live on earth”.
A third element is offered to us by the Gospel of St. John, when he states that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”. “This means, then, that the judgement is already in process, throughout our existence. This judgement is pronounced in every instant in our lives, as reflected in our acceptance in faith of salvation, present and through the work of Christ, or in our incredulity and our consequent self-centredness. Salvation means opening oneself to Jesus. If we are sinners, the Lord forgives us, but we must open ourselves to Jesus' love, which is greater than all things; and opening up means repenting”.
“The Lord Jesus gave Himself, and continues to give Himself for us”, concluded the Holy Father, “to fill us with the grace and the mercy of the Father. We can become in a certain sense our own judges, condemning ourselves to exclusion from communion with God and with our brethren. … therefore, let us never tire of keeping watch over our thoughts and attitudes, so that we might have right now a foretaste of the warmth and splendour of the face of God, which in eternal life we will contemplate in all its fullness”.