The readings for tomorrow’s feast emphasize Christ the King as Christ the Judge.

What I can’t escape is the fearful surprise that the final judgement will entail. The self righteous thought they were going to get in to heaven. The humble were sure they were not.

I can remember this being brought out on a visit to Chartres Cathedral. We were looking at that great stone carved tympanum art of the Last Judgement and the guide pointed out the expressions of surprise on the faces carved in stone.

Here is a poem I wrote pondering that visit:

Visit to Chartres

I came across it as I took the tour.
The tympanum over the Southern door
portrays the judgement with Christ on his throne,
demons, angels and human souls carved in stone.

It’s not the finest medieval scene.
The figures are cramped and small. The layout’s mean,
awkward and unrefined; and yet for my part,
I find in the ancient stone a higher art–
the sculptor understood the human heart.

He captured in the people down below
greed, anger, lust and pride; and tried to show
on the other side, frail hopeful goodness,
humility, innocence and bliss.

He caught the final moment of our mortal race,
in every resurrected fragile face.
It’s there in both the sinner and the saint;
in their bodies, their gestures and their eyes–

the look of incredulous amazement,
the startled joy–and the terrified surprise.

A Sudden Certainty is my book of poetry. You can check it out here.