CCC 331 Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him. .. ”1 They belong to him because they were created through and for him: “for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.”2 They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?”3
CCC 544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”;4 he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”5 To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned.6 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation.7 Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.8
CCC 598 In her Magisterial teaching of the faith and in the witness of her saints, the Church has never forgotten that “sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured.”9 Taking into account the fact that our sins affect Christ himself,10 the Church does not hesitate to impute to Christians the gravest responsibility for the torments inflicted upon Jesus, a responsibility with which they have all too often burdened the Jews alone:
We must regard as guilty all those who continue to relapse into their sins. Since our sins made the Lord Christ suffer the torment of the cross, those who plunge themselves into disorders and crimes crucify the Son of God anew in their hearts (for he is in them) and hold him up to contempt. And it can be seen that our crime in this case is greater in us than in the Jews. As for them, according to the witness of the Apostle, “None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” We, however, profess to know him. And when we deny him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on him.11
Nor did demons crucify him; it is you who have crucified him and crucify him still, when you delight in your vices and sins.12
CCC 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.13 This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ’s Passover.14 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.”15 That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ’s return by saying to him:16 Marana tha! “Our Lord, come!”17
CCC 678 Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the judgment of the Last Day in his preaching.18 Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light.19 Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God’s grace as nothing be condemned.20 Our attitude to our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love.21 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.”22
CCC 679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment 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 judgment to the Son”.23 Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself.24 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.25
CCC 954 The three states of the Church. “When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating ‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is”’:26
All of us, however, in varying degrees and in different ways share in the same charity towards God and our neighbors, and we all sing the one hymn of glory to our God. All, indeed, who are of Christ and who have his Spirit form one Church and in Christ cleave together.27
CCC 1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: “He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”28 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.29 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self- exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”
CCC 1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.30 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather. .. all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”31 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”32
CCC 1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”33
Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where “men will weep and gnash their teeth.”34
CCC 1038 The resurrection of all the dead, “of both the just and the unjust,”35 will precede the Last Judgment. This will be “the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of man’s] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”36 Then Christ will come “in his glory, and all the angels with him. .. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. .. And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”37
CCC 1373 “Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us,” is present in many ways to his Church:38 in his word, in his Church’s prayer, “where two or three are gathered in my name,”39 in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned,40 in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But “he is present. .. most especially in the Eucharistic species.”41
CCC 1397 The Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren:
You have tasted the Blood of the Lord, yet you do not recognize your brother,... You dishonor this table when you do not judge worthy of sharing your food someone judged worthy to take part in this meal. .. God freed you from all your sins and invited you here, but you have not become more merciful.42
CCC 1503 Christ’s compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that “God has visited his people”43 and that the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Jesus has the power not only to heal, but also to forgive sins;44 he has come to heal the whole man, soul and body; he is the physician the sick have need of.45 His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: “I was sick and you visited me.”46 His preferential love for the sick has not ceased through the centuries to draw the very special attention of Christians toward all those who suffer in body and soul. It is the source of tireless efforts to comfort them.
CCC 1825 Christ died out of love for us, while we were still “enemies.”47 The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself.48
The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: “charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”49
CCC 1932 The duty of making oneself a neighbor to others and actively serving them becomes even more urgent when it involves the disadvantaged, in whatever area this may be. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”50
CCC 2443 God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them: “Give to him who begs from you, do not refuse him who would borrow from you”; “you received without pay, give without pay.”51 It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones.52 When “the poor have the good news preached to them,” it is the sign of Christ’s presence.53
CCC 2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.54 Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.55 Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:56
He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise.57 But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.58 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?59
CCC 2449 Beginning with the Old Testament, all kinds of juridical measures (the jubilee year of forgiveness of debts, prohibition of loans at interest and the keeping of collateral, the obligation to tithe, the daily payment of the day-laborer, the right to glean vines and fields) answer the exhortation of Deuteronomy: “For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor in the land.’”60 Jesus makes these words his own: “The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”61 In so doing he does not soften the vehemence of former oracles against “buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals. ..,” but invites us to recognize his own presence in the poor who are his brethren:62
When her mother reproached her for caring for the poor and the sick at home, St. Rose of Lima said to her: “When we serve the poor and the sick, we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus.”63
CCC 2831 But the presence of those who hunger because they lack bread opens up another profound meaning of this petition. The drama of hunger in the world calls Christians who pray sincerely to exercise responsibility toward their brethren, both in their personal behavior and in their solidarity with the human family. This petition of the Lord’s Prayer cannot be isolated from the parables of the poor man Lazarus and of the Last Judgment.64
1 Mt 25:31.
2 Col 1:16.
3 Heb 1:14.
4 Lk 4:18; cf. 7:22.
5 Mt 5:3.
6 Cf. Mt 11:25.
7 Cf. Mt 21:18; Mk 2:23-26; Jn 4:6 1; 19:28; Lk 9:58.
8 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.
9 Roman Catechism I, 5, 11; cf. Heb 12:3.
10 Cf. Mt 25:45; Acts 9:4-5.
11 Roman Catechism I, 5, 11; cf. Heb 6:6; 1 Cor 2:8.
12 St. Francis of Assisi, Admonitio 5, 3.
13 Lk 21:27; cf. Mt 25:31.
14 Cf. 2 Th 2:7.
15 LG 48 # 3; cf. 2 Pt 3:13; Rom 8:19-22; I Cor 15:28.
16 Cf. I Cor 11:26; 2 Pt 3:11-12.
17 1 Cor 16:22; Rev 22:17,20.
18 Cf. Dan 7:10; Joel 3-4; Mal 3: 19; Mt 3:7-12.
19 Cf Mk 12:38-40; Lk 12:1-3; Jn 3:20-21; Rom 2:16; I Cor 4:5.
20 Cf. Mt 11:20-24; 12:41-42.
21 Cf. Mt 5:22; 7:1-5.
22 Mt 25:40.
23 Jn 5:22; cf. 5:27; Mt 25:31; Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Tim 4:1.
24 Cf. Lk 21:12; Jn 15:19-20.
25 Cf. Jn 3:17; 5:26. 588 Cf. Jn 3:18; 12:48; Mt 12:32; I Cor 3:12-15; Heb 6:4-6; 10:26-31.
26 LG 49; cf. Mt 25:31; 1 Cor 15:26-27; Council of Florence (1439): DS 1305.
27 LG 49; cf. Eph 4:16.
28 1 Jn 3:14-15.
29 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.
30 Cf. Mt 5:22, 29; 10:28; 13:42, 50; Mk 9:43-48.
31 Mt 13:41-42.
32 Mt 25:41.
33 Mt 7:13-14.
34 LG 48 # 3; Mt 22:13; cf. Heb 9:27; Mt 25:13, 26, 30, 31 46.
35 Acts 24:15.
36 Jn 5:28-29.
37 Mt 25:31, 32, 46.
38 Rom 8:34; cf. LG 48.
39 Mt 18:20.
40 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.
41 SC 7.
42 St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in 1 Cor. 27, 4: PG 61, 229-230; cf. Mt 25:40.
43 Lk 7:16; cf. Mt 4:24.
44 Cf. Mk 2:5-12.
45 Cf. Mk 2:17.
46 Mt 25:36.
47 Rom 5:10.
48 Cf. Mt 5:44; Lk 10:27-37; Mk 9:37; Mt 25:40, 45.
49 1 Cor 13:4-7.
50 Mt 25:40.
51 Mt 5:42; 10:8.
52 Cf. Mt 25:31-36.
53 Mt 11:5; cf. Lk 4:18.
54 Cf. Isa 58:6-7; Heb 13:3.
55 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.
56 Cf. Tob 4:5-11; Sir 17:22; Mt 6:2-4.
57 Lk 3:11.
58 Lk 11:41.
59 Jas 2:15-16; cf. 1 Jn 3:17.
60 Deut 15:11.
61 Jn 12:8.
62 Am 8:6; cf. Mt 25:40.
63 P. Hansen, Vita mirabilis (Louvain, 1668).
64 Cf. Lk 16:19-31; Mt 25:31-46.