“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Is it true that Jesus really doesn’t know when the end of the world (the General Judgment) will occur or is there more to this statement than meets the eye? Fortunately, we can relax because the Church teaches very clearly that Christ’s human knowledge is free from ignorance or error. How then can we interpret His statement?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states:
By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal. What he admitted to not knowing in this area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal (Acts 1:7). (CCC 474)
Furthermore, in the highly regarded reference book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, author Ludwig Ott states:
In explanation of the scriptural passage Mk 13:32, the Fathers of the Church submit 2 interpretations:
1. Christ should not, in accordance with the will of the Father, reveal the moment of the General Judgment to mankind. “It was no part of His teaching duty to make it (the day of the General Judgment) known to us.” (St. Augustine)
2. Christ as man knew the day of the General Judgment indeed, but He did not have this knowledge from His human nature. (Pope St. Gregory the Great)
So, fear not, Jesus most certainly knows the date of the General Judgment, but we don’t. That’s why it is so important to be ready. As the liturgical year comes to a close the Church reminds us that we should be prepared for judgment. While the General Judgment may still be thousands of years away, we can be sure that our own Particular judgment (occurring immediately after our death) will take place much sooner.