Jesus came into the world not to condemn it, but rather to restore it. He came to reunite us with God. By living on Earth as a man, He showed us the path to God; and by His death and Resurrection, He opened the gates of heaven for us. the path to salvation is clear: we are to imitate Christ, having compassion, especially for the lowly, with whom Jesus chose to be numbered. “…Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40)
“The very presence of Christ as the Truth and the Light is itself the judgement of the world. In this sense all men and the whole world are already judged, or more accurately, already live in the full presence of that reality — Christ and His works — by which they will be ultimately judged. With Christ now revealed, there is no longer any excuse for ignorance and sin.” (Hopko, “Doctrine,” p. 111)
What will happen at the end of the world? All will be raised from the dead and placed in the presence of God. If our lives were lived in union with God, the presence of God will be paradise. If we opposed God and lived for our own selfish desires, the presence of God will be hell.
“The Kingdom of God as a spiritual, divine reality is given to men by Christ in the Church. It is celebrated and participated in the sacramental mysteries of the Faith. It is witnessed to in the scriptures, the councils, the canons and the saints. It will become the universal, final cosmic reality for the whole of creation at the end of the ages when Christ comes in glory to fill all things with Himself by the Holy Spirit, that God might be ‘all and in all.’ “ (Hopko, “Doctrine,” p. 117)
Think together about death and about how to be prepared for Christ’s judgement “of the living and the dead” when that judgement happens. Begin by remembering. Look at photos of family members and/or friends who have departed this life. Talk about these people, how they impacted your life, and how/why you miss them. Then discuss the following questions: “ What happens when we die?” (We believe that when we die we await the general resurrection and receive a foretaste of heaven or hell, as our life has determined.) During this discussion, remind each other that these beloved people who have preceded us in death are already waiting for the general resurrection. Then ask, “Have you ever thought about your eventual death?”
Then talk about this: The Church Fathers taught there are two paths through life: the way of darkness and the way of light. We choose our path. Whatever circumstances and decisions we encounter on our journey, we know that we are not alone. The saints who we see on icons are already in the presence of God. As we travel the path to eternity, they are good company for us on the way. Also, Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would give us wisdom and understanding. As our Savior traveled with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, He Himself travels with us now, on our journey into eternity. Talk about ways to choose the way of light. “What can we do today, right now, that will show that we are choosing the way of light? Who can we ask to help us?” Pray together, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you and the saints to pray for your salvation.