The Last Judgment by Michelangelo is the one of the most famous of all of his frescoes and covers the entire east wall behind the altar in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. This painting took Michelangelo four years to complete from 1536-1541. This was the second largest of his works and displays in detail the account of the final judgment by God on all humanity, as written in Matthew 25: 31-46.
This is the perfect time to reflect and ponder the message God wants us to draw from the masterpiece, not only about our lives, but in view of the Advent season and this unique time in history. In April 1994, Pope St. John Paul II unveiled the restoration of this fresco, and gave a short yet powerful homily where he talked about this image in detail. It is said that the descending figures represent each of the seven deadly sins. Advent is one of the two penitential seasons, so why not use this season for our eternal advantage and, while contemplating this masterwork, reflect on the sins that wind their way through our spiritual lives.
As we conclude this month of November, and recount the commemoration of both All Saints and The Holy Souls, look at this great masterpiece to reflect upon the true meaning of the season, and the upcoming new calendar year. This can help put us in the right frame of mind to start anew this first week of Advent with hope in the second coming of Christ.
Maybe consider spending some quiet time this season reflecting on this beautiful image and have hope in the fact that Christ is our merciful Savior. It’s important we remain hopeful and peaceful amidst all of the hustle and bustle that this season brings. The first week of Advent focuses on HOPE. Christ is our Hope for this day and time, and for all generations.
Every time we focus on Christ and what God did for us by becoming man, it helps us to remember death is not the end. It’s our entrance into eternal life. Michelangelo must have had this in mind when he painted directly behind the altar in the Chapel – which is often seen so frequently when televised and photographed when the Holy Father says Mass there.
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Vatican Museum page about “The Last Judgment“