For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day. (John 6:40)
He will raise us on the last day. A last day will come.
Not just a last day of school, or a last day of work, or a last day of the Masters.
There will come a day when we will truthfully say, “No more ‘unscripted’ visits to New Hampshire by aspiring presidential candidates. No more having to charge my cellphone. No more mortgage payments. Todo finito–all these worldly cares.”
I guess this is one of those fundamental convictions about reality which separate the believer from the pagan. That a Last Day will come. Justice will be done. Redemption will be won for the servants of Eternal Love.
But, as the Fathers of Vatican II put it in Gaudium et Spes, this cognizance we have of the inevitable Last Day—which cognizance makes all these other days look different, puts them in a different light—this cognizance of ours does not make us despise these current days. It actually makes us care about them all the more.
After all, the Last Day could be today. Tomorrow is the 451st anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth, not to mention the day when we will celebrate the 125th anniversary of Roanoke Catholic School. But maybe we’ll never make it to tomorrow. Maybe the Lord will demand our lives from us this very night.
Will I face Him having been fair to all the people I have a duty to be fair to? Will I face Him having cared for people who bear the oppressor’s rod and suffer the whips and scorns of outrageous fortune? Will I face Him, and find mercy for my sins, because I have been merciful to other people myself?
Pagans don’t like to think about such things, I don’t believe. But: attending Mass, when we really think about it, requires us to examine ourselves like this every time. At Mass: here we are, in our bodies, the very bodies which will rise on the Last Day. And here He is, Christ our Lord, in the Blessed Sacrament. If this isn’t a dressed rehearsal for Judgment Day, I don’t know what is.
Perfect love casts out fear. We have to work out our salvation in fear and trembling, like holy St. Paul did. But when we are used to meeting Christ in the flesh, which we do whenever we go to Mass, we need not fear the Last Day. It won’t be any more terrifying than a Mass at which we could see everything—see everything that we now believe in, without seeing.