Last Judgment Triptych (Central) - by Hans MEMLING, from Muzeum Narodowe, Gdansk . . . .
The Active Study of the Four Last Things
and the Deep Consideration of them,
is the thing that will keep you from Sin.
--Saint Thomas More
Consider this Analogy. Suppose a Man were Waiting for his Turn to Come-down in an Elevator. In a Burst of Intellectual Freedom he says, "This is Ridiculous! I Refuse to Accept the Indignity of Subjecting myself to a Law of Gravitation that that Fool, Isaac Newton, Thought-up and Imposed-on the rest of us. I am going to be Free". He proceeds to Jump-out the Window. For a Few Seconds, or a Few Moments, depending on the Height, he seems to have Proved-his-Point. He is getting-down Faster. He is having an Exhilarating-Experience, Free-fall and all the Rest of it, until he Hits the Ground. A Smashed Body is the Judgment that the Law-of-Gravitation Passes-on all who try to Flout it.
This is the First Way to Try to Understand the Judgment. The Lord has made the World in such a way that we always-get what we Choose . . . Ultimately. If I Choose to Jump from the Top of a High Building, I will get Injury or Death. That is the Judgment, the Universe God has made, Passes-on me. If I Refuse to Learn, I will get Ignorance and all the Painful Things that go-with Ignorance. That is Judgment. If I Choose to Hurt and Humiliate others out-of Envy, I will get Darkness of Soul and all that goes with that, the Impulse to Tear-down what is Good. That is my Judgment. The Judgment is not so much Something the Lord Confronts us with in the World-to-Come, as it is the Law-of-the-Universe that Operates Now and In-everything. The Ways in which Judgment Appears,
are Previews of the Final Confrontation with the Reality of what we have Chosen to-become.
There is One Difference between the Judgment that God Exacts-through the Physical-Universe, and the Judgment that He Exacts-through the Spiritual. In the Judgment of the Physical-Order, there is no Appeal and no Mercy; but in the Judgment of the Spiritual Order, there is. Suppose that this Man we spoke of Jumped-from the 80th Floor, but as he Hurled-past Floor Number 35, he had a Change-of-Heart. He cried out, "Oh, Great and Mysterious Law of Gravitation, I was Foolish to think that I would Defy you and get away with it. Forgive me"! If he were to Receive an Answer, the Law-of-Gravitation would say, "I do not Forgive. This is what you Chose and this is what you are going to get . . . your Judgment". What is Impossible in the Physical Order (apart from a Miracle) happens all-the-time in the Spiritual. The Lord Reaches-out and Snatches us from what we are Falling to.
The Moral Laws are Laws, that is to say, they are Statements-of the Reality of Things. Here, for example are Statements of the Real Universe in which we live:
These are Laws. We cannot really Break them -- we can only Break Ourselves against them.
In Exactly the Same Way, the following Statements are Statements of the Real Universe too.
These are Laws too. We cannot Break these either. We can only Break Ourselves against them. If I try to Defy the Law-of-Gravitation, I begin to Fall to my Ruin. If I try to Defy the Law of Morals, I also begin to Fall to my Ruin -- unless, and until, the Lord Reaches-out, Snatches-me out of Mid-air in my Fall, sets-me-down Gently and says, "Your Sins are Forgiven you. Go and Sin no more". In the Judgment of the Physical Order, there is no Mercy, no Appeal. In the Judgment of the Spiritual Order, there is. That is the Difference. But in both-Cases, there is Judgment.
Suppose a Man were Invited-to a Party and he Acted-in a Very Rude Way; he was Critical and Abusive towards his Host and Fellow Guests. If he were to Complain afterwards, "they avoid me", you would say to him, would you not, "What do you expect"? If you were in a Philosophical Mood, you might go on:
The Lord takes us Seriously. He lets us have our Own-Way. We get what we Choose. We go to our Own-Place. If we Betray the Lord, as Judas did, we Get-up and Leave His Company; we go out into the Night. The Judgment is not so much something that God Decrees, as it is the Lord Who Allows our Free-Will to run its course -- unless He Intervenes to Save us from ourselves. This is what He does, again-and-again. If we begin to Fall to our Ruin the Lord sees us; He takes Pity on us and Reaches-out and Grasps-us in Mid-air (so to speak) and Changes the Course we have Chosen by our Folly and our Sin. The Mercy of God is His Endless Miracle of Saving Sinners Who are Bent-on Destroying themselves.