Jesus christ does not know when the final judgment will be
RACHEL Emisoras Latinas has moved its microphones to the Valley of Kedron, below the eastern walls of ancient Jerusalem. Jesus Christ already explained to us that his contemporaries believed that the final judgment would be held here.
JESUS And it seems that many people still believe that, Rachel. Look how many graves there are. No doubt people have themselves buried here so as to be first in line when the hour arrives!
RACHEL The final judgment! We carried out a survey in the streets asking people this one question What would you do if the trumpets of the final judgment were to sound today?
WOMAN I’ve been paying my tithes and fasting three times every month. I’m ready for whenever God wants.
MAN I’ve confessed Christ, and Saint Paul says “Whoever confesses the Lord will be saved.” I am saved, glory to God, alleluia!
WOMAN 2 The truth is, I’m not ready for that judgment. I haven’t been in a church for forty years.
MAN 2 Heavens, sir! If I hear that trumpet, I’ll crap in my pants! (WHISTLE)
OLD LADY I don’t think I’ll have problems because I’ve earned ten plenary indulgences.
MAN 3 There’s not a day I don’t read the Bible! Since there’s room for 144,000 elect, I’m sure they’ll give me an entry visa.
RACHEL On this occasion Emisoras Latinas made a special effort and had our correspondents obtain answers in some non-Christian countries.
JESUS And what did they say in those countries?
RACHEL The Muslims spoke of their pilgrimages to Mecca, the Jews mentioned the Sabbath and kosher food. The Hindus explained how they sing to Vishnu, but the Buddhists offered no opinion. The Chinese were the most tranquil. They say that the 21st century will be their century and that the world is not going to end so quickly. Are the Chinese possibly right? What do you say, Jesus? When will the final judgment be?
JESUS Really, I don’t know …
RACHEL You don’t know when?
JESUS No, we don’t know the day or the hour.
RACHEL So it’s top secret, confidential information, and you don’t want to share it with our audience?
JESUS The people in my time knew nothing like these surveys you’ve done, but even they asked about when the end would come.
RACHEL And what did you tell them?
JESUS The same as what I tell you now that we do not know the day, but we need to be ready. I never said when we would go to judgment, but I did explain what the judge will ask us in that tribunal.
RACHEL Could you give us an idea of what that cross-examining will be like?
JESUS On that day of judgment, God will ask us if we gave food to those who are hungry, if we gave drink to those who are thirsty, if we clothed those who are naked, if we consoled those who are sad. God will want to know where our treasure was if money was more important for us than people, if we bowed down before money as if it were a god. On that day we will be examined about love.
RACHEL And no questions about sacrifices, prayers, worship, pilgrimages, promises, tithes, dogmas?
JESUS No, nothing of that sort will count on that day.
RACHEL And everything that was done in the name of Yahweh, or Christ, or Jehovah, or Allah, or Vishnu, or Shiva,….?
JESUS None of that will count. On that day God’s name will be Justice.
RACHEL And after the judgment? Is that when the world will end? Is that when the seventh and final trumpet of the Apocalypse will sound?
JESUS Each day has troubles enough of its own, Rachel. Why don’t we sound that trumpet tomorrow?
RACHEL Well, we’ll wait for tomorrow … the end of the world! From the Kedron Valley, alongside the walls of Jerusalem, this is Rachel Perez of Emisoras Latinas.
ANNOUNCER Another God is Possible. Exclusive interviews with Jesus Christ in his second coming to Earth. A production of María and José Ignacio López Vigil, with the support of the Syd Forum and Christian Aid.
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First in line
According to Israel’s traditions, the Valley of Jehoshaphat was the place where the Final Judgment would take place (Joel 3,2.12). In the Bible the valley was more symbolic than geographic. About 400 years before Jesus, people began to identify that place as the Kedron Valley, which separates the Mount of Olives from the eastern part of Jerusalem. Following that tradition, many generations of Israelites have had themselves buried in the Kedron Valley, so that today that zone, which abuts Jerusalem’s walls, has become a huge cemetery. Countless sepulchers are oriented towards the gates of the holy city. There the faithful departed Jews wait, hoping to be first in line on the day of the Final Judgment.
A central message
Matthew’s gospel (25,31-46) presents Jesus’ message about what God’s “cross-examination” will be like on that day, and that message is central for understanding what Jesus’ project was all about, what he wanted from the movement he led. Jesus did not propose another religion run by a hierarchy, with new rites, prayers, sacrifices and promises. He proclaimed that God wants above all an ethics of human relations based on inclusion, equality, compassion, and sensitivity for the needs of our fellow human beings.
James, the leader of the Jerusalem community after Jesus was executed, understood clearly that this solidarity was central in the movement which his brother Jesus had organized. He wrote as follows: My brothers, what use is it for someone to say he has faith when he does nothing to show it? Can that faith save him? Suppose a brother or a sister is in rags with not enough food for the day, and one of you says, “Good luck to you, keep yourselves warm, and have plenty to eat,” but does nothing to supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So with faith; if it does not lead to action, it is in itself a lifeless thing.
In the evening of life we will be examined about love – that is the way it was expressed by the Spanish mystic and poet John of the Cross many centuries after Jesus and James lived. And in the 20th century the Russian philosopher Nicolas Berdyaev explained it thus: My own hunger could be a material problem, but the hunger of others is a spiritual problem, because it is a problem of solidarity.
Not paternalism, but social and political commitment
“Love” or “spiritual solidarity” is not paternalism; it is not giving alms or charity or mere assistance. Jesus used the language of the prophets, who cried out that God wants “mercy and not sacrifice”, and the catechism speaks of what we know as the “works of mercy” (feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, etc.). What Jesus proposed goes beyond individual attitudes: it’s a whole life project that has collective and political consequences, especially in view of the extreme power imbalances and ever greater inequalities that exist in our world today.
Feeding people in our days means organizing models of development that guarantee that everybody can eat. Giving people drink in our days means preserving the sources of water and protecting them against senseless contamination at the hands of irresponsible businesses. Clothing the naked in our days means making sure that the workers in the sweatshops that produce the clothes we wear have just salaries and dignified working conditions.