Hell

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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.

Noel Ethan Tan

Noel Ethan Tan

Noel is a Singaporean working as a rehabilitation counsellor at ACC(S) Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centre. He is currently doing a part-time Masters Program in Counselling and Guidance at NTU, Singapore. In his church ministry, Noel is currently serving in a young adults' Catholic community called Anawim that does Bible Exegesis. Noel is also pursuing a Certificate in Theology at the Catholic Theological Institute of Singapore. His favorite Bible verse is 1 Peter 3:15 — “In your hearts, reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it with gentleness and reverence.”

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2 thoughts on “Hell”

  1. Avatar

    Jesus who is the head of the Catholic Church taught that Judas will be damped since he did not believe. All the early saints taught this. No one can contradict Our Lord. Second, if some sincerely teaches the Catholic faith and they refuse to believe and they die without believing and be baptize they are damned. This Jesus teaching Himself. No priest, bishop, cardinal, pope or council can change this. And also their is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. This is dogmatic.

    1. Avatar

      Dogmatics aside, how would anyone but God know if a person repented at the last second of their lives? As St. Augustine said, no one knows what happens between the bridge and the water.

      Even a suicidal person who jumps off the ledge can regret in that same moment and repent in contrition during that last second of his life. Because of this unknown element, the Church has never judged or declared anyone in hell.

      Brother, since when did the church dogmatically declare that Judas was damned?? Please show me. To what I understand, the saints and theologians were mixed to Judas’ fate. Many of the wise ones chose to remain neutral and never gave a direct answer to this.

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