The End of Time and Life After Death
The Coming of God's Kingdom
Once Jesus and his followers were in the Temple at Jerusalem. Some of his followers exclaimed, "Look how this building is decorated with beautiful stones and people's decorations!"
"Everything you see here will soon be gone!" Jesus replied. "A day will come when a stone won't set upon another stone in the Temple. Every stone will tumble down!"
"Teacher! When will this happen? And, how will we know it's about to happen?" they asked.
Based on Luke 21:5-7
The followers of Jesus didn't just ask about the Temple. After all, the Romans destroyed the Temple forty years after Jesus died. No, they had a bigger question. When will God come and put his Kingdom on earth?
In a way, the Kingdom is already here. Jesus is present to us. He is with us in the Eucharist. He is with us in the Church, God's own people. And when we act in a kind and fair way, we represent Jesus to others. In small ways, the Kingdom is here, like seeds of a large tree.
But we still yearn for God's Kingdom to be totally present. Then, there will be no more sickness or death. People will no longer suffer from evil. Everyone will be happy with God forever. Until that time, we wait.
Life After Death
People will see the Son of Man come in the clouds with great power. He will send his messengers and gather all believers from every corner of the earth.
Based on Mark 13:26-27
After his resurrection, Jesus rose into heaven. Since then, his followers have been waiting for him to return. When he comes back, he will gather everyone together. Those who have died will be raised up, in a resurrection of the body. God will reunite everyone's body and soul.
Then Jesus will hold a general judgment. He will ask everyone two questions. Did you trust and love God? Did you treat your neighbor with respect? Those who loved God and others will live in his Kingdom.
What happens if people die before Jesus comes? When they die, God will look at their lives in a particular judgment. He will ask: Are you my friend? Do you have my life within you? People will give one of three answers: "yes," "no," or "yes, but..."
If their answer is "yes," they will live with God and his saints in heaven. They will be perfectly happy because they will see God!
If their answer is "no," they will live without God in hell. Because they were totally selfish now, they will be unhappy forever.
If their answer is "yes, but...," they will live for a time without God in purgatory. They may love God and others now, but they still act in very selfish ways. For a time, they will need to be freed (or "purified") from this selfishness. Then, they will live with God in heaven.
Even now, God asks us the same questions. Are you my friend? Do you have my life within you? He gives us a chance to change. We can be more loving. And we can get ready for God's Kingdom.
Be prepared! You don't know when the Kingdom will come.
Based on Matthew 25:13