According to Gregory the Great, final judgment is the pinnacle manifestation of Christ’s victory over his enemies and the fiery purification of imperfections in his friends. All of human history unfolds in view of this final encounter between the impure minions of Satan and the triumphant Mystical Body of Christ. Once the edge of history passes into that hinge moment of judgment: the threshing floor opens, and the divine sifting begins. Divine Justice in-the-flesh will apply a strict and exacting measure which could only be perfect, total, and transcendent.
For Gregory, judgment is the transitional point to the eternal patria and harbor of peace. All the storms of this passing age—internal and external—serve higher purposes of severing us from lower attachments and augmenting our final reward through patient endurance. As Gregory affirms, “the wheat now groans beneath the chaff,” but at the final judgment a full separation will occur (Moralia in Job 34.5.10). Satan and his inward-turned associates will find no place within the high and august walls of the heavenly city. Judgment will strike, swift as lightning. Unlike his first appearance, a full majestic power will emanate from Christ’s subtle body, causing dread to sweep over his enemies (17.32.53, 34.7.16). The magnitude of his appearance and the radiance of his glow will even serve to purify whatever “rust of slight sins” may be detected in the holy ones who heroically persevered to the end (34.7.16). All chaff must be burnt, all wheat must be pure. Pronouncements will drop like lightning, and this burning will occur in due measure and full justice (34.5.10). The ancient enemy will be confined and punished along with all who freely drank the poison of his errors (20.27.56). All the purified elect will pass to the eternal state where all human hearts will be bright as gold and transparent as pure glass, while the reprobate will remain united to their serpentine head in eternal punishment (18.48.77-78, 34.6.11, 32.17.29). Divine justice will reign, the wicked dragon will be swept away, and the gate to the heavenly city of peace will be secured for all eternity.
Before this complete end arrives, however, much is to be done. While we still have time, Gregory advises that humility and reverential fear ought to characterize our attitudes toward this pivotal end (31.27.53). Although we lack an adequate vision of how our collective history is being shaped by a Divine plan, we know that now is the age when Christ patiently awaits us. As Gregory teaches, now is the time for mercy, and at the judgment, justice (33.12.23). The enemy is real, intelligent, and roaring with bated breath to attract us to his poisonous bait (33.24.44, 34.22.45). Let us resist, turn our minds toward the King, awaiting his moves and his final victory.
Br. Matthew Wanner, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE