Today's liturgy lays stress on the terrible punishments which will one day be inflicted on those who have denied Christ. They will all perish and not one of them will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Those who have been faithful to Him through all the adversities of this life, will also one day be saved from the hands of their enemies and will follow Him into heaven, whither He went at His Ascension, whose feast the Church celebrates at Paschaltide.
But divine justice is not content with protecting the just against their enemies and with rewarding them for their fidelity; it punishes also those who do evil. The Israelites who tempted Christ by their murmurings perished by fiery serpents (Epistle), and Jerusalem, over which our Lord wept and whose punishment he foretold for its rejection of Himself, was destroyed by war and fire (Gospel).
More than a million Jews perished at the destruction of Jerusalem because they had rejected the Messias, and in the Gospel, our Lord always compared this tragic ending to the catastrophies which will mark the end of all time when God will come to judge the world by fire.
At that moment, the divine judge will accomplish the separation of the good from the evil, rewarding the first and banishing from the kingdom of God all who have denied Him by their unbelief or their sin, just as He drove from the Temple, the type of the Church on earth and in heaven, the traffickers who had transformed that house of God into a den of thieves (Gospel). For then the time of mercy will have passed, and that of justice only will remain. "Wherefore," says the apostle, "he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall" (Epistle).