Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell

st-francis-with-skullTraditional Catholic theology has distinguished the “Four Last Things” : Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. We are admonished to meditate upon these things frequently. We WILL die, be judged, and spend eternity either in Hell, or in Heaven (likely after some time in purgatory). All men are appointed to die once, and after that face The judgment (Hebrews 9:27) A remarkable video was just posted  of a song by Johnny Cash on the topic of judgment. Here are some of the words:

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time, run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Go tell that long tongue liar, go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down.

We will all one day die, or as the song puts it, be cut down. We will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (cf 2 Cor 5:10;  Heb 4:13; 1 Peter 4:5).

The reality of judgment and the possibility of Hell bothers a lot of modern Christians who have had God’s love emphasized to the exclusion of just about everything else about God. For example that He is Truth, and utterly Holy, that nothing unholy can tolerate His presence and so forth.

How to explain the possibility of Hell to a generation with a rather simplified notion of God? Perhaps the word “respect” can help. God want to save us all and have us live with him forever. This is clear in Scripture. But God has made us free and wants us to freely love Him and accept His invitation. This is His respect for our freedom. Now everyone want to go to heaven as they describe it. But NOT EVERYONE wants to go to real heaven which is God’s Kingdom in perfection. You see, in heaven, God’s Kingdom,  there is love for the truth, love for chastity, love for the poor, love for justice, love for one another, mercy and forgiveness are esteemed and God is at the center. But NOT EVERYONE wants these things. Not everyone wants the truth, wants to be chaste, not everyone wants to forgive and love everyone. Not everyone wants God to be at the center, they prefer that spot for themselves or some other idol. So God invites. But not all accept. In the end, God respects our choice and this is why there is Hell, it is for those who do not want what the Kingdom of God is. God still sustains the souls in Hell but he ultimately respects their choice to reject the Kingdom and its values.

So death is on the way, sooner or later we will all be cut down. What is it that you want??

Ponder this video:

7 Replies to “Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell”

  1. Msgr. Pope

    Can you talk a little about what you mean by God at the “center”?

    1. In the modern world God has been moved to the margins of our society and man has moved to the center. Everything is focused on Man, his accomplishments and what man thinks. God has been marginalized. Even in many modern descriptions of heaven there is a startling egocentric tendency. Thus I will be happy, I will see my loved ones, I will have a mansion, I …I …I and God is hardly mentioned. But the Biblical descriptions of heaven make it clear that God is the very center of our experience in heaven. To be is heaven is to be with God. The saints and angles surround the throne of God and rejoice in his presence! Surely I will be with my loved ones and I will be happy but most importantly I will be with God! There are many today who do not wish God to be at the center of their lives. Perhaps they don’t like be told what to do, perhaps they have flawed concepts of God that make them reject him, perhaps they simply prefer money, or power or popularity to be their central focus. For whatever the reason, it seems that many of us struggle to want God at the center and many prefer he be on the margins or “not exist” at all. Well, if that is the case then would one really want to be in heaven? For is heaven God is our all and all, he’s the center of our joy!

  2. Very Cool post, I was wondering did you hear that Dade County , Florida has decided interference with free speech by pulling ads about Islam. This is outrageous and a huge waste of tax payer money will be pent paying legal costs to defend this practice.

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