VATICAN CITY — In his general audience this week, Pope Francis reflected that the reality of the Final Judgment allows us to trust in God even if we are afraid, emphasizing also that our judgment begins each day through the way we live.
“Dear brothers and sisters, reflecting on the Final Judgment — despite that it instinctively raises a certain fear in us — gives elements of comfort and trust,” the Pope said in his Dec. 11 Wednesday audience.
The Pope’s weekly discourse was given to the thousands of pilgrims who flocked to St. Peter’s Square in order to hear the pontiff speak.
Turning to the final article in the Creed in which believers proclaim their belief “in life everlasting,” Pope Francis stated that, “at Christ’s coming in glory as judge of the living and the dead, we will be held accountable before God for the good we have done or failed to do in this life.”
Although we have the tendency to “regard this Final Judgment with a certain trepidation,” he noted, “the Church invites us to see it as a source of consolation and joyful hope.”
Recalling how the early Christian communities used the Aramaic expression Maranatha (“Come, Lord!”) in their liturgies, the Pope emphasized that this “encourages” us to think about the Final Judgment as a time when “we will be considered worthy to be clothed with glory and to enter the wedding feast with Christ, the Bridegroom.”
Using the phrase “Maranatha” to “invoke Christ’s return,” continued the Holy Father, he expressed the early Christian hope for “the great wedding feast of a humanity reconciled with God."
Looking to the moment when each of us will face our own judgment, Pope Francis affirmed that “we will not be alone,” and that this gives us a reason to be consoled because “Jesus, our advocate with the Father, will be at our side, together with all the saints.”
In that moment, he stated, “we will be able to count on the intercession and benevolence of so many of our brother saints, who have preceded us in the path of faith.”
Another element that allows us to be comforted “is the idea that the judgment starts now, through the way which we live, through our existence,” the Pope highlighted.
“God’s judgment takes place in our lives each day,” he said, “by the way in which we respond to Christ’s teaching and imitate him in serving our brothers and sisters.”
“Jesus constantly gives us grace, so we can be filled with the Father’s mercy, and we have the responsibility to open ourselves up to that grace or, on the contrary, be closed and exclude ourselves from communion with God.”
“Let us prepare, then,” added the Pope, "to meet our judge with confidence and joyful trust in his promises.”