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CHRIST'S THOUSAND-YEAR REIGN
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Friday, Last Week of the Year, November 26, 2010
Rev. 20:1-4, 11-21:2, Ps. 83, Luke 21:29-33


"Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life, and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Rev. 20:4)


In the last days, Christ will return in triumph from heaven with the armies of heaven, "arrayed in fine linen, white and pure," following "him on white horses" (Rev. 19:11, 14). The beast (the Antichrist) and the false prophet will be cast alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20), and an angel "seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into a pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended" (Rev. 20:2-3). This is all written in the past tense because it is a vision of the future that St. John saw.


St. Augustine thought that the thousand years is the present time of the Church, but it seems that St. John intends to describe a real future thousand-year reign of peace and justice on earth with Christ and the tribulation martyrs and those who will still be alive at his second coming. Besides, Satan can hardly be said to be bound now, for "your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour" (1 Pet. 5:8).


St. John rather speaks of a thousand-year reign of the saints with Christ on earth, while Satan is completely bound with a chain in a pit that is sealed over him "that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended" (Rev. 20:1-3). Therefore with Satan bound, this thousand-year reign will be a time of unprecedented righteousness, justice, and peace on earth. "And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison" (Rev. 20:7). Then fire will come down from heaven (Rev. 20:9), and the devil will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). Then the great white throne judgment will take place, when the present heavens and earth will be destroyed (Rev. 20:11). At this judgment, "if any one's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15). It seems that this judgment will only be for those destined for the lake of fire (the hell of the damned), for the saints were already resurrected (1 Thess. 4:16-17), and the tribulation martyrs were also previously resurrected for the thousand-year reign (Rev. 20:4). At the end of all this, there will be "a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more" (Rev. 21:1). Then "I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God" (Rev. 21:2). This will mark the beginning of eternity. The saved will live in the new Jerusalem or on the new earth forever, while the damned will be tormented eternally (Rev. 14:11) in the lake of fire (the hell of the damned) (Rev. 20:15). "And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matt. 25:46).

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