The Second Coming: Explaining the Particular and General Judgments…
Do not doubt for a moment that Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead:
“If anyone says to you then, ‘Look, here is the Messiah! Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will arise and will perform signs and wonders in order to mislead, if that were possible, the elect. Be watchful! I have told it all to you beforehand. But in those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather (his) elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.” -Mark 13:21-27, NAB
What happens to us when we die? Do we go to Heaven? Purgatory? Hell? Well, that is for God to decide as He judges each one of us. How does this judgment fit in with the judgment that Christ will bring on the whole world in His Second Coming? Let’s find out.
First, as each one of us passes from this lfe to the next, we leave our bodies to be judged by God; this is the particular judgment (according to Catholic Tradition). Based on our faith and life here on Earth, our fate will be decided. If we are separated from God, we will go to Hell. If we have lived holy lives, we can go to Heaven. Finally, if we lived holy lives but need purification, we will go to Purgatory prior to entering Heaven. But that is not the end of the story.
At some point, we are told that the whole world will be judged again; this is the general judgment and will happen at Christ’s Second Coming (also known as the parousia). For some, this strikes fear in their hearts – afraid of how God will judge them. We Catholics and Christians, however, look forward to this time in joyful hope, knowing that Christ came to free us from our sins.
The purpose of the Second Coming is for Christ to finally reign over the world as He was destined to do. We, as mankind, will finally reach our final destiny, as well. Everything we have hoped and prayed for will finally come to pass at the Second Coming.
Is the Second Coming just a myth? No, it is a very real part of our faith that we can hope for. It may not be a part of our faith that we speak about often, but I assure you that it is real. We must live our lives, therefore, knowing of the coming judgments, both the particular and general. As we say in the Creed, Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead – will you be ready for it?