Today’s Catechism sections explore the Second Coming and the Judgment of the living and the dead. Supporting material comes from St. Clement of Rome.

The Church's ultimate trial

675 Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.573 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth574 will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.575

676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,576 especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.577

677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.578 The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.579 God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.580

II. To Judge the Living and the Dead

678 Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the judgement of the Last Day in his preaching.581 Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light.582 Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God's grace as nothing be condemned.583 Our attitude to our neighbour will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love.584 On the Last Day Jesus will say: "Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."585

679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgement on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He "acquired" this right by his cross. The Father has given "all judgement to the Son".586 Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself.587 By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one's works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.588

IN BRIEF

682 When he comes at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, the glorious Christ will reveal the secret disposition of hearts and will render to each man according to his works, and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace.

St. Clement of Rome speaks of the Second Coming of Christ in his work entitled, “Recognitions”…

Chapter 49. Two Comings of Christ.

His coming, therefore, was predicted by Moses, who delivered the law of God to men; but by another also before him, as I have already informed you. He therefore intimated that He should come, humble indeed in His first coming, but glorious in His second. And the first, indeed, has been already accomplished; since He has come and taught, and He, the Judge of all, has been judged and slain. But at His second coming He shall come to judge, and shall indeed condemn the wicked, but shall take the pious into a share and association with Himself in His kingdom. Now the faith of His second coming depends upon His first. For the prophets— especially Jacob and Moses— spoke of the first, but some also of the second. But the excellency of prophecy is chiefly shown in this, that the prophets spoke not of things to come, according to the sequence of things; otherwise they might seem merely as wise men to have conjectured what the sequence of things pointed out.

Footnotes

573 Cf. ⇒ Lk 18:8; ⇒ Mt 24:12.
574 Cf. ⇒ Lk 21:12; ⇒ Jn 15:19-20.
575 Cf. ⇒ 2 Th 2:4-12; ⇒ I Th 5:2-3; 2 ⇒ Jn 7; ⇒ I Jn 2:1 8, ⇒ 22.
576 Cf. DS 3839.
577 Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris, condemning the "false mysticism" of this "counterfeit of the redemption of the lowly"; cf. GS 20-21.
578 Cf. ⇒ Rev 19:1-9.
579 Cf ⇒ Rev 13:8; ⇒ 20:7-10; ⇒ 21:2-4.
580 Cf. ⇒ Rev 20:12 ⇒ 2 Pt 3:12-13.
581 Cf. ⇒ Dan 7:10; ⇒ Joel 3-4; ⇒ Mal 3: 19; ⇒ Mt 3:7-12.
582 Cf ⇒ Mk 12:38-40; ⇒ Lk 12:1-3; ⇒ Jn 3:20-21; ⇒ Rom 2:16; ⇒ I Cor 4:5.
583 Cf. ⇒ Mt 11:20-24; ⇒ 12:41-42.
584 Cf. ⇒ Mt 5:22; ⇒ 7:1-5.
585 ⇒ Mt 25:40.
586 ⇒ Jn 5:22; cf. ⇒ 5:27; ⇒ Mt 25:31; ⇒ Acts 10:42; ⇒ 17:31; ⇒ 2 Tim 4:1.
587 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:17; ⇒ 5:26.
588 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:18; ⇒ 12:48; ⇒ Mt 12:32; ⇒ I Cor 3:12-15; ⇒ Heb 6:4-6; ⇒ 10:26-31.