Q — The Apostles’ Creed states “He will come again to judge the living and the dead.” So, are the dead not judged?

A —Yes, the dead are judged, but there is a fundamental sense in which every human creature remains incomplete until all humankind, and indeed all creation, reaches completion in Christ at the end. When we talk about the Second Coming of Christ, or what is better expressed as the Parousia, the fullest and final manifestation of God’s presence to his creation, when God becomes “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28), we are using images and metaphors to describe our Christian hope, our Christian understanding of what theologians call “eschatology,” the doctrine of the last things, including judgment. The best place to get an immediate answer to this question is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 668-679. Let me pick out some quotations from this text that will be helpful in understanding the issue.

678: “(At the judgment on the Last Day)… Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God’s grace as nothing be condemned. Our attitude about our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love.”

679: “By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.”

Now, obviously, a person who has counted the offer of God’s grace as nothing at all is negatively judged after death, or, better, has judged themselves negatively, and so, by rejecting grace in this life, quite deliberately and quite knowingly, has already entered into judgment upon themselves, the judgment which God as love, in his gift to us of freedom, reluctantly acknowledges.