Hell

James 5:1-6, Psalm 49, Mark 9:41-50

Hell is not just a theoretical possibility according to the Gospel reading on 24 May and many more passages in scripture.

“The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.” (CCC 1035)

Although Hell is real, prudence must be exercised when we teach others about it. St. John Paul II gives us a helpful reminder to all Christians: “The issue that some will go to hell is decided, but the issue of WHO in particular will go to hell is undecided.”

Sandro Botticelli, Chart of Hell

I particularly despise people who proclaim things like, “You are going to hell if you don’t convert to Christianity!” Such people are arrogant and presumptuous.

It is important for us to know our place. ALL of us will be judged, Christian or not (c.f. Mt 25:31-46). We are not the judge (c.f. Jas 4:12). Claiming with absolute certainty that someone is going to hell is the grave sin of presumption because they assume the role of God.

That is why up till this day, the Catholic Church has never definitively declared who’s in hell — because the truth of the matter is, she doesn’t know! Yes, even non-believers and the worst sinners.

Many today think that this is just a politically-correct answer. To such people, let me ask a simple question: “How would YOU know that even the greatest sinner did not, at the last second of his death, cry out to Jesus to save him?”

This is the essence of the good thief in Luke’s Gospel. The story’s purpose is to show that God’s mercy is limitless.

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Originally posted on Instagram.