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Jesus Christ has the power to judge

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on Jesus Christ
General Audience, Wednesday 30 September 1987 - in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish  

"1. God is the judge of the living and the dead. The final judge. hte judge of everyone.

Already in the catechesis preceding the descent of the Holy Spirit on the pagans St. Peter proclaimed concerning Christ: "He is the one set apart by God as judge of the living and the dead." This divine power (exousia) is, according to Christ's teaching, connected with the Son of Man. The well-known text in St. Matthew's Gospel on the last judgment begins with the words, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels of heaven, he will sit upon his royal throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. Then he will separate them into two groups, as a shepherd separates sheep from goats" (Mt 25:31-33). The text then speaks of the unfolding of the process and foretells the sentence—that of approbation: "Come, you have my Father's blessing! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world" (Mt 25:34); and that of condemnation, "Out of my sight, you condemned, into that everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Mt 25:41).

2. Jesus Christ, who is the Son of Man, is at the same time true God because he has the divine power to judge human works and consciences, and this power is definitive and universal. He himself explained why he has this power, saying, "The Father himself judges no one, but has assigned all judgment to the Son, so that all men may honor the Son just as they honor the Father" (Jn 5:22-23).

This power is linked by Jesus with the power to grant life. "Just as the Father raises the dead and grants life, so the Son grants life to those to whom he wishes" (Jn 5:21). "Just as the Father possesses life in himself, so has he granted it to the Son to have life in himself. The Father has given over to him power to pass judgment because he is Son of Man" (Jn 5:26-27). Therefore, according to this assertion of Jesus, the divine power to judge has been linked to Christ's mission as Savior, as Redeemer of the world. Judgment itself belongs to the work of salvation, to the order of salvation; it is a definitive salvific act. The scope of the judgment is the full participation in the divine life as the final gift made to man—the definitive fulfillment of his eternal vocation. At the same time the power of judging is linked with the external revelation of the Father's glory in his Son as Redeemer of mankind. "The Son of Man will come with his Father's glory...and he will repay each one according to his conduct" (Mt 16:27). From the very beginning the order of justice has been inscribed in the order of grace. The final judgment is to be the definitive confirmation of this bond. Jesus said clearly that "the saints will shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom" (Mt 13:43). But he no less clearly announced the rejection of those who have done evil (cf. Mt 7:23).

As is evident from the parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-30), the measure of judgment will be the cooperation with the gift received from God, cooperation with grace or its rejection.

3. The divine power to judge each and every person belongs to the Son of Man. The classical text of Matthew's Gospel emphasizes the fact that Christ exercises this power not only as God the Son, but also as man. He exercises it—and pronounces sentence—in the name of solidarity with every person, who receives from others either good or evil. "I was hungry and you gave me food" (Mt 25:35), or "I was hungry and you gave me no food" (Mt 25:42). The works of charity in regard to one's neighbor are a fundamental element of the judgment. Christ identifies himself precisely with this neighbor. "As often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me" (Mt 25:40); "As often as you neglected to do it to one of these least ones, you neglected to do it to me" (Mt 25:45).

According to this text of Matthew, we shall all be judged according to love. But there is no doubt that we shall all be judged also on our faith. "Whoever acknowledges me before men—the Son of Man will acknowledge him before the angels of God" (Lk 12:8). "If anyone is ashamed of me and my doctrine, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes with the holy angels in his Father's glory" (Lk 9:26; cf. also Mk 8:38).

4. We learn from the Gospel this truth - which is one of the fundamental truths of faith - that God is judge of all humanity in a universal and definitive way, and that this power has been assigned by the Father to the Son (cf. Jn 5:22) in close relationship with his mission of salvation. Jesus attested this during his nighttime conversation with Nicodemus: "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (Jn 3:17).

If it is true, as we learn especially from the Synoptics, that Christ is judge in the eschatological sense, it is also true that the divine power to judge is linked to God's salvific will, which is manifested in the whole messianic mission of Christ. This is especially underlined by John, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind" (Jn 9:39). "If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I am not the one to condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save it" (Jn 12:47).

5. Without doubt, Christ is and presents himself especially as Savior. He does not regard it as his mission to condemn people according to merely human principles (cf. Jn 8:15). He is, first of all, the one who teaches the way of salvation, and not the accuser of the guilty. "Do not imagine that I will be your accuser before the Father; the one to accuse you is Moses...for it was about me that he wrote" (Jn 5:45-46). In what then does the judgment consist? Jesus replied, "The judgment of condemnation is this—the light came into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were wicked" (Jn 3:19).

6. It must therefore be said that, in the presence of this light which is God revealed in Christ, in the presence of this truth, each one is judged by one's own deeds. The will to save humanity on God's part is definitively manifested in Christ's word and work, in the entire Gospel up to the paschal mystery of the cross and resurrection. It becomes at the same time the deepest foundation, so to say, the central criterion of the judgment of human works and consciences. Especially in this sense "the Father...has assigned all judgment to the Son" (Jn 5:22), offering in him to everyone the possibility of salvation.

7. In this same sense man is already condemned, when he rejects the possibility offered him. "Whoever believes in him avoids condemnation, but whoever does not believe is already condemned" (Jn 3:18). Not to believe means precisely to reject the salvation offered to man in Christ ("He did not believe in the name of God's only Son," Jn 3:18). It is the same truth foreshadowed in the prophecy of the ancient Simeon reported in Luke's Gospel when he announced of Christ: "He is destined to be "the downfall and the rise of many in Israel" (Lk 2:34). The same can be said of the reference to the "stone rejected by the builders" (cf. Lk 20:17-18).

8. It is a certitude of faith that "the Father...has assigned all judgment to the Son" (Jn 5:22). Now then, if the divine power to judge belongs to Christ, it is a sign that he - the Son of Man - is true God, because judgment belongs to God alone. Since this power of judgment is deeply united to the will to save, as is seen from the Gospel, it is a new revelation of the God of the covenant, who comes to mankind as Emmanuel, to liberate people from the slavery of evil. It is the Christian revelation of the God who is Love.

This corrects the too human way of viewing God's judgment as a cold act of justice or some kind of revenge. In actual fact, this term, judgment, which is clearly of biblical derivation, is the last link in the chain of God's love for all of us. God judges because he loves and in view of love. The judgment which the Father entrusts to Christ is according to the measure of the Father's love and of our liberty.

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai fedeli di lingua francese

Et maintenant, j’adresse un salut particulier aux membres de la Congrégation des Servantes du Très-Saint-Sacrement réunis en chapitre général à Rome. Je les encourage vivement à poursuivre et à renouveler, partout où elles sont implantées, la dévotion du peuple chrétien envers la très bienfaisante présence réelle du Christ dans l’Eucharistie. Et je bénis toutes leurs communautés.

Je suis heureux d’accueillir le groupe des poètes africains venus participer au “Séminaire international d’étude sur les nouvelles littératures africaines”, qui se tient à Rome sur le thème: “Ensemble pour la paix”. Je les remercie de leur visite et je forme le vœu que cette rencontre romaine permette de mieux contribuer à former les consciences aux valeurs essentielles de la paix du cœur, de la paix entre les personnes et entre les nations.

Enfin, je salue et je bénis de tout cœur l’ensemble des pèlerins de langue française présents à cette audience.

Ai fedeli di lingua inglese

I wish to extend a special word of welcome to the group of Capuchin friars who have come to Rome for an on-going formation course. In a few day, dear Brothers, we shall celebrate the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, a man renowned throughout the world among Christians and non-Christians alike, a man of prayer and simplicity, a man of poverty and peace, a man on fire with love for Christ. I pray that the celebration of the feast and the various aspects of your course will deepen your appreciation of the special Franciscan charism that is yours, and give you fresh zeal for proclaiming the Gospel of Salvation.

And I offer very cordial greetings to all the English-speaking visitors who are present at the audience today, in particular to those coming from England, Ireland, Australia, Canada and the United States of America.

May the Lord bless you with his peace and joy.

Ai fedeli di lingua tedesca

Diese kurzen Erwägungen zu einem wichtigen Thema unseres Glaubens darf ich euch mit auf den Weg geben, zurück in eure Heimat, zu euren Lieben. zu Hause. Ich begleite alle eure verschiedenen Lebenswege mit meinem Gebet, besonders die jungen Menschen, die soeben beginnen, Verantwortung zu übernehmen, und die alten Menschen, die nun die Summe ihres Lebens vor Gott ziehen. Zugleich wollen wir uns alle aufrichtig zu unseren kranken Mitmenschen bekennen, wie: wir sie stellvertretend für so viele andere auch heute hier unter uns sehen: vor allem grüße ich dabei heute die Teilnehmer der bereits bewährten Initiative aus der Schweiz-”Rom im Rollstuhl“. Mein herzlicher Gruß gilt dann auch der Dankwallfahrt der Diözese Essen mit ihrem Bischof Franz Hengsbach, die zugleich die erste Leserfahrt der verdienten Bistumszeitung Ruhrwort darstellt. Ich danke euch für dieses lebendige Zeichen eurer Verbundenheit sowie auch-und dies wohl im Sinne aller Anwesenden-Für das frohe und gekonnte Spiel eurer Bergmannskapelle aus Gelsenkirchen. Euch allen gilt mein Gebet und besonderer Segen!

Ai fedeli di espressione spagnola

Mi más cordial saludo se dirige a todos los peregrinos de América Latina y de España aquí presentes. Saludo en especial a los Religiosos Terciarios Capuchinos de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, que prestan un benemérito servicio en la reeducación de la juventud, así como al grupo de Coromoto, de la ciudad de Caracas, y a los estudiantes de Arquitectura de la República del Paraguay.

Octubre, como sabéis todos, es un mes mariano y la Iglesia eleva su mirada con filial confianza a su Madre Santísima mediante el rezo del rosario. Os invito a que en vuestra plegaria del avemaría pidáis particularmente por el feliz resultado pastoral del Sínodo de los Obispos dedicado esta vez a un tema de gran trascendencia para las Comunidades cristianas: el de los seglares.

* * *

No puedo dejar de agradecer la presencia del Orfeón Donostiarra, de San Sebastián, en esta Audiencia. Con este gesto quieren manifestar los sentimientos de filial cercanía y devoción que un sector mayoritario del Pueblo Vasco siente por esta Sede Apostólica.

Sé que a través de vuestra clase y buen hacer musical procuráis llevar con legítima satisfacción el nombre de vuestra hermosa ciudad por los distintos escenarios del mundo. Vuestro pueblo sufre desde hace tiempo el cruel azote de la violencia, que ha sembrado muerte y destrucción. Os pido que testimoniéis en vuestras vidas el valor irrenunciable de la paz; solamente así la convivencia pacífica será de nuevo una constante realidad en vuestra tribulada ciudad y en el resto del Paz Vasco. Que la Virgen de la Paz os proteja “oraín eta beti”: ahora y siempre.

A todos imparto mi Bendición Apostólica.

A pellegrini di lingua portoghese

Saúdo cordialmente os visitantes e peregrinos de língua portuguesa, a todos desejando felicidades, em Jesus Cristo Senhor; digo em particular aos ítalo-brasileiros, originários da nobre terra véneta: Levai, desta Audiência, a certeza avivada de que Deus quer que vos comporteis sempre como filhos muito amados por Ele, seguindo o exemplo de Cristo; e, sem renunciar aos valores de vossa gloriosa tradição, que sejais como Ele: fautores de reconciliação, amor e fraternidade, até à comunhão de família, na grande família brasileira. Com a minha Bênção Apostólica.

Ai connazionali polacchi

Pozdrawiam pielgrzymów Z Polski: ks. Kardynała z Krakowa, księży Biskupów z Łomży i z Gorzowa Wielkopolskiego i wszystkie grupy-z parafii bł. Królowej Jadwigi w Krakowie; z parafii św. Jana Chrzciciela w Krakowie-Czerwony Prądnik; z parafii Matki Bożej Królowej Polski w Czechowicach-Dziedzicach, diecezja katowicka; pielgrzymów z diecezji lubelskiej; z parafii św. Teresy z Tamki w Warszawie; z parafii św. Anny w Grodzisku Mazowieckim; pielgrzymkę ojców kapucynów i członków trzeciego zakonu z Warszawy i innych ośrodków; współpracowników pallotyńskich z Warszawy; z parafii katedralnej Świętej Trójcy w Gdańsku-Oliwie; z koscioła św. Bartłomieja w Gdańsku, księża jezuici; z dekanatu Ołobockiego, archidiecezja poznańska; z parafii św. Bonifacego we Wrocławiu; z dekanatu Głuchołazy, diecezja opolska; prócz tego grupę nauczycieli Logos-Tour, uczestników grup turystycznych PTTK Mielec, Rzeszów, Strzegomie, Wałbrzych, Sport-Tourist, Orbis z całej Polski, PKS z Warszawy, Turysta z Poznania, grupę turystyczną z Kołobrzegu, grupę kolejarzy z Katowic.

A numerosi gruppi di pellegrini italiani

Saluto con viva cordialità il gruppo dell’Istituto Artigianelli di Brescia, giunto in pellegrinaggio alla Sede di Pietro in occasione del centenario di fondazione ad opera del venerabile Padre Giovanni Battista Piamarta a favore dei giovani bisognosi del mondo del lavoro.

La vostra Opera, cari fratelli, è presente anche in Brasile ed in Cile, ed alcuni di voi, compresa una banda musicale composta di ragazzi, provengono anche da quelle parti. Grazie per la vostra visita, e tanti auguri affinché il bene che fate a favore della gioventù possa estendersi sempre più. Di cuore vi benedico.

* * *

Un caro saluto anche al gruppo della parrocchia romana di Santa Galla, che tra pochi giorni festeggerà la festa patronale inaugurando una cappella dedicata a Maria “Romanae Portus securitatis”. In questa cappella sarà posta un’immagine della Vergine, che io ben volentieri benedico, come pure benedico tutti voi, cari fratelli, chiedendo alla Madre di Dio che vi ottenga in abbondanza le grazie celesti.

* * *

Saluto, inoltre, i pellegrini provenienti dalla parrocchia di San Pietro a Mezzana in diocesi di Prato. Hanno portato una statua della Madonna, da destinare alla nuova chiesa parrocchiale. Mi hanno chiesto di benedirla, ed io ben volentieri accetto la richiesta, esprimendo il voto che la protezione della Vergine sia loro particolarmente presente durante il prossimo mese di ottobre a Lei dedicato, e durante il quale si svolgeranno le Sante Missioni. Benedico tutti di cuore.

* * *

Un cordiale saluto al gruppo di Radiotelepace di Cerna, in Provincia di Verona. Con le offerte raccolte tra migliaia di ascoltatori questa benemerita Associazione ha acquistato un “ monitor ”, una sofisticata apparecchiatura medica, destinata all’Ospedale di Nazaret.

Benedico di cuore la vostra iniziativa, auspicando ogni bene.

Ai giovani

Rivolgo il mio cordiale saluto ai giovani presenti. Carissimi, alla vigilia dell’apertura del Sinodo dei Vescovi, desidero esortarvi a seguire la celebrazione di tale evento ecclesiale con particolare attenzione. Il vostro impegno può attingere molto dalla riflessione che si dedicherà alla vocazione ed alla missione dei laici a vent’anni dal Concilio Vaticano II, il quale, per venire attuato in tutta la sua pienezza, ha bisogno di persone formate ai suoi insegnamenti ed alle sue indicazioni, di sempre fresche e generose energie, cioè anche di voi, giovani. In unione con Maria, invocate lo Spirito Santo perché vi riempia dei suoi doni e così essere esecutori pronti e fedeli di quanto Egli vi ispirerà. Vi benedico uno per uno.

Agli ammalati

Anche a voi, carissimi ammalati, porgo il mio affettuoso saluto. Inizia domani il mese di ottobre, dedicato dalla pietà del popolo cristiano al S. Rosario. Da questa semplice e meravigliosa preghiera sappiate attingere forza e conforto.

Carissimi ammalati, vi invito a voler sostenere i lavori del Sinodo con la recita quotidiana del S. Rosario e con l’offerta delle sofferenze al Signore. Ciò attirerà certamente sull’Assemblea dei Vescovi i divini favori e non sarà poco il vostro merito per questo sostegno silenzioso, ma importantissimo. Vi sia di incoraggiamento l’Apostolica Benedizione.

Agli sposi novelli

Un saluto ed un augurio alle coppie di sposi novelli. Carissimi, fate in modo che la vostra famiglia sia una “Chiesa domestica” in cui si vive in unione con Dio, nella serenità e nella pace.

Vi accompagni la mia Benedizione.

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