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Prepared by
Catholic Doors Ministry.

"THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH."


Paragraph 3. Jesus Christ was Buried

624 "By the grace of God" Jesus tasted death "for every one". [Heb 2:9] In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son should not only "die for our sins" [1 Cor 15:3] but should also "taste death", experience the condition of death, the separation of his soul from his body, between the time he expired on the cross and the time he was raised from the dead. The state of the dead Christ is the mystery of the tomb and the descent into hell. It is the mystery of Holy Saturday, when Christ, lying in the tomb, [Cf. Jn 19:42] reveals God's great sabbath rest [Cf. Heb 4:7-9] after the fulfilment [Cf. Jn 19:30] of man's salvation, which brings peace to the whole universe. [Cf Col 1: 18-20] [1005, 362, 349]

Christ in the tomb in his body

625 Christ's stay in the tomb constitutes the real link between his passible state before Easter and his glorious and risen state today. The same person of the "Living One" can say, "I died, and behold I am alive for evermore": [Rev 1:18]

God [the Son] did not impede death from separating his soul from his body according to the necessary order of nature, but has reunited them to one another in the Resurrection, so that he himself might be, in his person, the meeting point for death and life, by arresting in himself the decomposition of nature produced by death and so becoming the source of reunion for the separated parts. [St. Gregory of Nyssa, Orat. catech. 16: PG 45, 52D]

626 Since the "Author of life" who was killed [Acts 3:15] is the same "living one [who has] risen", [Lk 24:5-6] the divine person of the Son of God necessarily continued to possess his human soul and body, separated from each other by death: [470, 650]

By the fact that at Christ's death his soul was separated from his flesh, his one person is not itself divided into two persons; for the human body and soul of Christ have existed in the same way from the beginning of his earthly existence, in the divine person of the Word; and in death, although separated from each other, both remained with one and the same person of the Word. [St. John Damascene, De fide orth. 3, 27: PG 94, 1097]

"You will not let your Holy One see corruption"

627 Christ's death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union which the person of the Son retained with his body, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for "it was not possible for death to hold him" and therefore divine power preserved Christ's body from corruption." [St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 51, 3] Both of these statements can be said of Christ: "He was cut off out of the land of the living", [Is 53:8] and "My flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption." [Acts 2:26-27; cf. Ps 16:9-10] Jesus' Resurrection "on the third day" was the proof of this, also because bodily decay was held to begin on the fourth day after death. [Cf. 1 Cor 15:4; Lk 24:46; Mt 12:40; Jon 2:1; Hos 6:2; cf. Jn 11:39] [1009, 1683]

"Buried with Christ..."

628 Baptism, the original and full sign of which is immersion, efficaciously signifies the descent into the tomb by the Christian who dies to sin with Christ in order to live a new life. "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." [Rom 6:4; cf. Col 2:12; Eph 5:26] [537, 1214]

IN BRIEF

629 To the benefit of every man, Jesus Christ tasted death (cf. Heb 2:9). It is truly the Son of God made man who died and was buried.

630 During Christ's period in the tomb, his divine person continued to assume both his soul and his body, although they were separated from each other by death. For this reason the dead Christ's body "saw no corruption" (Acts 13:37).

ARTICLE 5
"HE DESCENDED INTO HELL. ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE AGAIN"

631 Jesus "descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens." [Eph 4:9-10] The Apostles' Creed confesses in the same article Christ's descent into hell and his Resurrection from the dead on the third day, because in his Passover it was precisely out of the depths of death that he made life spring forth:

Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind, your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. [Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 18, Exsultet]

Paragraph I. Christ Descended into Hell

632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was "raised from the dead" presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection. [Acts 3:15; Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 15:20; cf. Heb 13:20] This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ's descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Saviour, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there. [Cf. 1 Pt 3:18-19]

633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, "hell" - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. [Cf. Phil 2:10; Acts 2:24; Rev 1:18; Eph 4:9; Pss 6:6; 88:11-13] Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into "Abraham's bosom": [Cf. Ps 89:49; 1 Sam 28:19; Ezek 32:17-32; Lk 16:22-26] "It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Saviour in Abraham's bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell." [Roman Catechism 1, 6, 3] Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him. [Cf. Council of Rome (745): DS 587; Benedict XII, Cum dudum (1341): DS 1011; Clement VI, Super quibusdam (1351): DS 1077; Council of Toledo IV (625): DS 485; Mt 27:52-53] [1033]

634 "The gospel was preached even to the dead." [1 Pt 4:6] The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfilment. This is the last phase of Jesus' messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ's redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption. [605]

635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that "the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." [Jn 5:25; cf. Mt 12:40; Rom 10:7; Eph 4:9] Jesus, "the Author of life", by dying destroyed "him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage." [Heb 2:14-15; cf. Acts 3:15] Henceforth the risen Christ holds "the keys of Death and Hades", so that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth." [Rev 1:18; Phil 2:10]

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began... He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him - He who is both their God and the son of Eve... "I am your God, who for your sake have become your son... I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead." [Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C; LH, Holy Saturday, OR]

IN BRIEF

636 By the expression "He descended into hell", the Apostles' Creed confesses that Jesus did really die and through his death for us conquered death and the devil "who has the power of death" (Heb 2:14).

637 In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven's gates for the just who had gone before him.

Paragraph 2. On the Third Day He Rose from the Dead

638 "We bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this day he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus." [Acts 13:32-33] The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross: [90, 651, 991]

Christ is risen from the dead!
Dying, he conquered death;
To the dead, he has given life. [Byzantine Liturgy, Troparion of Easter]

I. THE HISTORICAL AND TRANSCENDENT EVENT

639 The mystery of Christ's resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness. In about A.D. 56 St. Paul could already write to the Corinthians: "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve..." [1 Cor 15:3-4] The Apostle speaks here of the living tradition of the Resurrection which he had learned after his conversion at the gates of Damascus. [Cf. Acts 9:3-18]

The empty tomb

640 "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen." [Lk 24:5-6] The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ's body from the tomb could be explained otherwise. [Cf. Jn 20:13; Mt 28:11-15] Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrection. This was the case, first with the holy women, and then with Peter. [Cf. Lk 24:3, 12, 22-23] The disciple "whom Jesus loved" affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and discovered "the linen cloths lying there", "he saw and believed". [Jn 20:2, 6, 8] This suggests that he realized from the empty tomb's condition that the absence of Jesus' body could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus. [Cf. Jn 11:44; 20:5-7] [999]

The appearances of the Risen One

641 Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One. [Mk 16:1; Lk 24:1; Jn 19:31, 42] Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ's Resurrection for the apostles themselves. [Cf Lk 24:9-10; Mt 28:9-10; Jn 20:11-18] They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers, [Cf 1 Cor 15:5; Lk 22:31-32] and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that the community exclaims: "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" [Lk 24:34, 36] [553, 448]

642 Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles - and Peter in particular - in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning. As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary "witnesses to his Resurrection", but they are not the only ones - Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles. [1 Cor 15:4-8; cf. Acts 1:22] [659, 881, 860]

643 Given all these testimonies, Christ's Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples' faith was drastically put to the test by their master's Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold. [Cf. Lk 22:31-32] The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized ("looking sad" [Lk 24:17; cf. Jn 20:19]) and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an "idle tale". [Lk 24:11; cf. Mk 16:11, 13] When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, "he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen." [Mk 16:14]

644 Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. "In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering." [Lk 24:38-41] Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord's last appearance in Galilee "some doubted." [Cf Jn 20:24-27; Mt 28:17] Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles' faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.

The condition of Christ's risen humanity

645 By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion. [Cf. Lk 24:30,39-40, 41-43; Jn 20:20, 27; 21:9,13-15] Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ's humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father's divine realm. [Cf. Mt 28:9, 16-17; Lk 24:15, 36; Jn 20:14, 17, 19, 26; 21:4] For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith. [Cf. Mk 16:12; Jn 20:14-16; 21:4, 7] [999]

646 Christ's Resurrection was not a return to earthly life, as was the case with the raisings from the dead that he had performed before Easter: Jairus' daughter, the young man of Naim, Lazarus. These actions were miraculous events, but the persons miraculously raised returned by Jesus' power to ordinary earthly life. At some particular moment they would die again. Christ's Resurrection is essentially different. In his risen body he passes from the state of death to another life beyond time and space. At Jesus' Resurrection his body is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit: he shares the divine life in his glorious state, so that St. Paul can say that Christ is "the man of heaven". [Cf. 1 Cor 15:35-50] [934, 549]

The Resurrection as transcendent event

647 O truly blessed Night, sings the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil, which alone deserved to know the time and the hour when Christ rose from the realm of the dead! [O vere beata nox, quae sola meruit scire tempus et horam, in qua Christus ab inferis resurrexit!] But no one was an eyewitness to Christ's Resurrection and no evangelist describes it. No one can say how it came about physically. Still less was its innermost essence, his passing over to another life, perceptible to the senses. Although the Resurrection was an historical event that could be verified by the sign of the empty tomb and by the reality of the apostles' encounters with the risen Christ, still it remains at the very heart of the mystery of faith as something that transcends and surpasses history. This is why the risen Christ does not reveal himself to the world, but to his disciples, "to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people." [Acts 13:31; cf. Jn 14:22] [1000]

II. THE RESURRECTION - A WORK OF THE HOLY TRINITY

648 Christ's Resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God himself in creation and history. In it the three divine persons act together as one, and manifest their own proper characteristics. The Father's power "raised up" Christ his Son and by doing so perfectly introduced his Son's humanity, including his body, into the Trinity. Jesus is conclusively revealed as "Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead". [Rom 1:3-4; cf. Acts 2:24] St. Paul insists on the manifestation of God's power [Cf. Rom 6:4; 2 Cor 13:4; Phil 3:10; Eph 1:19-22; Heb 7:16] through the working of the Spirit who gave life to Jesus' dead humanity and called it to the glorious state of Lordship. [258, 989, 663, 445, 272]

649 As for the Son, he effects his own Resurrection by virtue of his divine power. Jesus announces that the Son of man will have to suffer much, die, and then rise. [Cf. Mk 8:31; 9:9-31; 10:34] Elsewhere he affirms explicitly: "I lay down my life, that I may take it again... I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." [Jn 10:17-18] "We believe that Jesus died and rose again."[1 Th 4:14]

650 The Fathers contemplate the Resurrection from the perspective of the divine person of Christ who remained united to his soul and body, even when these were separated from each other by death: "By the unity of the divine nature, which remains present in each of the two components of man, these are reunited. For as death is produced by the separation of the human components, so Resurrection is achieved by the union of the two." [St. Gregory of Nyssa, In Christi res. Orat. I: PG 46, 617B; cf. also DS 325; 359; 369] [626, 1005]

III. THE MEANING AND SAVING SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESURRECTION

651 "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain." [1 Cor 15:14] The Resurrection above all constitutes the confirmation of all Christ's works and teachings. All truths, even those most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification if Christ by his Resurrection has given the definitive proof of his divine authority, which he had promised. [129, 274]

652 Christ's Resurrection is the fulfilment of the promises both of the Old Testament and of Jesus himself during his earthly life. [Cf. Mt 28:6; Mk 16:7; Lk 24:6-7, 26-27, 44-48] The phrase "in accordance with the Scriptures" [Cf. 1 Cor 15:3-4; cf. the Nicene Creed] indicates that Christ's Resurrection fulfilled these predictions. [994, 601]

653 The truth of Jesus' divinity is confirmed by his Resurrection. He had said: "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he." [Jn 8:28] The Resurrection of the crucified one shows that he was truly "I AM", the Son of God and God himself. So St. Paul could declare to the Jews: "What God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, 'You are my Son, today I have begotten you.'" [Acts 13:32-33; cf. Ps 2:7] Christ's Resurrection is closely linked to the Incarnation of God's Son, and is its fulfilment in accordance with God's eternal plan. [445, 461, 422]

654 The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life is above all justification that reinstates us in God's grace, "so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." [Rom 6:4; cf. 4:25] Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace. [Cf. Eph 2:4-5; 1 Pt 1:3] It brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ's brethren, as Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: "Go and tell my brethren." [Mt 28:10; Jn 20:17] We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection. [1987, 1996]

655 Finally, Christ's Resurrection - and the risen Christ himself is the principle and source of our future resurrection: "Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep... For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." [1 Cor 15:20-22] The risen Christ lives in the hearts of his faithful while they await that fulfilment. In Christ, Christians "have tasted... the powers of the age to come" [Heb 6:5] and their lives are swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life, so that they may "live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." [2 Cor 5:15; cf. Col 3:1-3] [989, 1002]

IN BRIEF

656 Faith in the Resurrection has as its object an event which as historically attested to by the disciples, who really encountered the Risen One. At the same time, this event is mysteriously transcendent insofar as it is the entry of Christ's humanity into the glory of God.

657 The empty tomb and the linen cloths lying there signify in themselves that by God's power Christ's body had escaped the bonds of death and corruption. They prepared the disciples to encounter the Risen Lord.

658 Christ, "the first-born from the dead" (Col 1:18), is the principle of our own resurrection, even now by the justification of our souls (cf. Rom 6:4), and one day by the new life he will impart to our bodies (cf.: Rom 8:11).

ARTICLE 6
"HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN AND IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER"

659 "So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God." [Mk 16:19] Christ's body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys. [Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26] But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity. [Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4] Jesus' final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God's right hand. [Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1] Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul "as to one untimely born", in a last apparition that established him as an apostle. [1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16] [645, 66, 697, 642]

660 The veiled character of the glory of the Risen One during this time is intimated in his mysterious words to Mary Magdalene: "I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." [Jn 20:17] This indicates a difference in manifestation between the glory of the risen Christ and that of the Christ exalted to the Father's right hand, a transition marked by the historical and transcendent event of the Ascension.

661 This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who "came from the Father" can return to the Father: Christ Jesus. [Cf. Jn 16:28] "No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man." [Jn 3:13; cf. Eph 4:8-10] Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the "Father's house", to God's life and happiness. [Jn 14:2] Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us. [Missale Romanum, Preface of the Ascension: sed ut illuc confideremus, sua membra, nos subsequi quo ipse, caput nostrum principiumque, praecessit.] [461, 792]

662 "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." [Jn 12:32] The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, "entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands... but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf." [Heb 9:24] There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he "always lives to make intercession" for "those who draw near to God through him". [Heb 7:25] As "high priest of the good things to come" he is the centre and the principal actor of the liturgy that honours the Father in heaven. [Heb 9:11; cf. Rev 4:6-11] [1545, 1137]

663 Henceforth Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father: "By 'the Father's right hand' we understand the glory and honour of divinity, where he who exists as Son of God before all ages, indeed as God, of one being with the Father, is seated bodily after he became incarnate and his flesh was glorified." [St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 4, 2: PG 94, 1104C] [648]

664 Being seated at the Father's right hand signifies the inauguration of the Messiah's kingdom, the fulfilment of the prophet Daniel's vision concerning the Son of man: "To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." [Dan 7:14] After this event the apostles became witnesses of the "kingdom [that] will have no end". [Nicene Creed] [541]

IN BRIEF

665 Christ's Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus' humanity into God's heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf. Acts 1:11); this humanity in the meantime hides him from the eyes of men (cf. Col 3:3).

666 Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father's glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him for ever.

667 Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

ARTICLE 7
"FROM THENCE HE WILL COME AGAIN TO JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD"

I. HE WILL COME AGAIN IN GLORY

Christ already reigns through the Church...

668 "Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living." [Rom 14:9] Christ's Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in his humanity, in God's power and authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion", for the Father "has put all things under his feet." [Eph 1:20-22] Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are "set forth" and transcendently fulfilled. [Eph 1:10; cf. 4:10; 1 Cor 15:24, 27-28] [450, 518]

669 As Lord, Christ is also head of the Church, which is his Body. [Cf. Eph 1:22] Taken up to heaven and glorified after he had thus fully accomplished his mission, Christ dwells on earth in his Church. The redemption is the source of the authority that Christ, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, exercises over the Church. "The kingdom of Christ [is] already present in mystery", "on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom". [LG 3; 5; cf. Eph 4:11-13] [792, 1088, 541]

670 Since the Ascension God's plan has entered into its fulfilment. We are already at "the last hour". [1 Jn 2:18; cf. 1 Pt 4:7] "Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect." [LG 48 # 3; cf. 1 Cor 10:11] Christ's kingdom already manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend its proclamation by the Church. [Cf. Mk 16:17-18, 20] [1042, 825, 547]

...until all things are subjected to him

671 Though already present in his Church, Christ's reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled "with power and great glory" by the King's return to earth. [Lk 21:27; cf. Mt 25:31] This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ's Passover. [Cf. 2 Th 2:7] Until everything is subject to him, "until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God." [LG 48 # 3; cf. 2 Pt 3:13; Rom 8:19-22; 1 Cor 15:28] That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ's return by saying to him: [Cf. 1 Cor 11:26; 2 Pt 3:11-12] Maranatha! "Our Lord, come!" [1 Cor 16:22; Rev 22:17,20]] [1043, 769, 773, 1043, 2046, 2817]

672 Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel [Cf. Acts 1:6-7] which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace. [Cf. Is 11:1-9] According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by "distress" and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church [Cf. Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 7:26; Eph 5:16; 1 Pt 4:17] and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching. [Cf. Mt 25:1, 13; Mk 13:33-37; 1 Jn 2:18; 4:3; 1 Tim 4:1] [732, 2612]

The glorious advent of Christ, the hope of Israel

673 Since the Ascension Christ's coming in glory has been imminent, [Cf. Rev 22:20] even though "it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority." [Acts 1:7; Cf. Mk 13:32]. This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are "delayed". [Cf. Mt 24:44; 1 Th 5:2; 2 Th 2:3-12] [1040, 1048]

674 The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus. [Rom 11:20-26; cf. Mt 23:39] St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old." [Acts 3:19-21] St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?" [Rom 11:15] The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles", [Rom 11:12, 25; cf. Lk 21:24] will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all". [Eph 4:13; 1 Cor 15:28] [840, 58]

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. [Cf. Lk 18:8; Mt 24:12] The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth [Cf. Lk 21:12; Jn 15:19-20] 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. [Cf. 2 Th 2:4-12; 1 Th 5:2-3; 2 Jn 7; 1 Jn 2:1 8, 22] [769]

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, [Cf. DS 3839] especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism. [Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris, condemning the "false mysticism" of this "counterfeit of the redemption of the lowly"; cf. GS 20-21] [2425]

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. [Cf. Rev 19:1-9] 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. [Cf. Rev 13:8; 20:7-10; 21:2-4] 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. [Cf. Rev 20:12 2 Pt 3:12-13] [1340, 2853]

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. [Cf. Dan 7:10; Joel 3-4; Mal 3: 19; Mt 3:7-12] Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light. [Cf. Mk 12:38-40; Lk 12:1-3; Jn 3:20-21; Rom 2:16; 1 Cor 4:5] Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God's grace as nothing be condemned. [Cf. Mt 11:20-24; 12:41-42] Our attitude to our neighbour will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love. [Cf. Mt 5:22; 7:1-5] 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." [Mt 25:40] [1038-1041, 1470]

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". [Jn 5:22; cf. 5:27; Mt 25:31; Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Tim 4:1] Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself. [Cf. Jn 3:17; 5:26] 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. [Cf. Jn 3:18; 12:48; Mt 12:32; 1 Cor 3:12-15; Heb 6:4-6; 10:26-31] [1021]

IN BRIEF

680 Christ the Lord already reigns through the Church, but all the things of this world are not yet subjected to him. The triumph of Christ's kingdom will not come about without one last assault by the powers of evil.

681 On Judgement Day at the end of the world, Christ will come in glory to achieve the definitive triumph of good over evil which, like the wheat and the tares, have grown up together in the course of history.

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.



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