08 Nov Chapter 18: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Resurrection of the Body
Chapter 18: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Resurrection of the Body
What is Heaven?
- Heaven cannot be described or understood by any human thought or category.
- Heaven is the infinite nature of God shared by the Virgin Mary, the angels, the saints, and us.
- Heaven is seeing God face to face, a mystery that we can experience only when we die.
- Heaven is the infinite nature of God that cannot be contained by anything created: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you” (1 Kgs 8:27).
- Heaven is described by St. Paul as something that our mind cannot imagine or fathom: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).
- Heaven is a mystery as long as we are on earth: “So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:6-7).
- Heaven is how St. Paul describes Jesus’ glory: “He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen” (1 Tm 6:15-16).
- The Letter to the Hebrews describes heaven as a huge festival: “… you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect …” (Heb 12:22-23).
- Heaven is described by The Catechism of the Catholic Church in this way: “This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity – this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed – is called “heaven.” Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (CCC, 1024).
- Meditating on the glorious state of the Virgin Mary, Pope Benedict XVI invites us “to lift our gaze to heaven; not to a heaven consisting of abstract ideas or even an imaginary heaven created by art, but the heaven of true reality which is God himself. God is heaven” (Homily, August 15, 2008).
- Heaven is a mystery called “beatific vision” by the Church: “Because of his transcendence, God cannot be seen as he is, unless he himself opens up his mystery to man’s immediate contemplation and gives him the capacity for it. The Church calls this contemplation of God in his heavenly glory ‘the beatific vision'” (CCC, 1028).
Heaven is Not a ‘Place’ it is a Glorious State of Being
- Heaven is not a “place”; it is a state of being.
- God can never be in a confined spot.
- God is everywhere without being confined to any category of space and time.
- Heaven is a place only in the sense that it “exists,” not in the sense that it is a space: “Thus says the Lord: The heavens are my throne, the earth is my footstool. What kind of house can you build for me; what is to be my resting place?” (Is 66:1).
- Heaven is not a “place” in the same way a place is understood to be here on earth: “If the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor 5:1).
- Every category of space and time will be replaced by a heavenly category totally beyond the capacities of our mind: “For what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:17-18).
- Heaven is the ultimate transformation of our being from its earthly category to its heavenly category: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2).
- The Letter to Hebrews describes heaven as the true tabernacle established by the Lord not made by man: “We have such a high priest, who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up” (Heb 8:1b-2).
- The Letter to the Hebrews describes Christ entering heaven through his cross, the eternal tabernacle not belonging to this world.
- This eternal tabernacle is beyond the categories of space and time: “But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation, he entered once for all into the sanctuary …” (Heb 9:11-12).
- St. John describes God’s temple as surpassing all categories of history, space, and time.
- In heaven, there is no physical temple because the physical temple is replaced by God himself as the everlasting temple: “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb” (Rv 21:22).
Those who enter Heaven will never leave it again
- Some believers are afraid that after entering heaven, they might be “kicked out” for some reason.
- This belief is contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church.
- Because heaven is a state of being, those who enter it will be with God forever.
- Those who share the infinite glory of the Blessed Trinity, will never leave it again because there is no change in God.
- The Prophet Isaiah confirms the permanent character of heaven: “As the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall endure before me, says the Lord, so shall your race and your name endure” (Is 66:22).
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus describes heaven as a constant state of “entering into the joy of ‘our’ master” (Mt 25:21).
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus compares us to angels in heaven who “always behold the face of my (Jesus’) Father who is in heaven” (Mt 18:10).
- In the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus compares us to his flock that the Father will protect forever: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom…Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy” (Lk 12:32-33).
- In the Gospel of St. Luke, the rich man who was agonizing in fire asked Abraham to send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool his tongue.
- Abraham answered him that it was impossible because “between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us” (Lk 16:26).
- Those who are already in heaven can’t and won’t go anywhere else.
- In the Gospel of St. John, Jesus offers an unfailing security for those who enter the house of the Father to be with him forever: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places… And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (Jn 14:2-3).
- St. Paul calls the Ephesians “citizens” of God’s household.
- This citizenship, because it is built on Christ, will last forever: “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone” (Eph 2:19-20).
- St. Paul tells the Philippians that, because they are citizens of heaven, our Savior will remain with them in heaven forever: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20).
- In the Letter to the Hebrews, the redeemed in heaven are “the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven” (Heb 12:23).
- Their enrollment in heaven will last forever.
- In the Book of Revelation, heaven is described as a permanent state of our being because we become pillars in God’s eternal temple: “The victor I will make into a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never leave it again” (Rv 3:12).
- These pillars will be there forever.
- In the Book of Revelation, the praise of the redeemed constantly rises before God and will be uninterrupted forever: “For this reason they stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them” (Rv 7:15-16).
- In the Book of Revelation, God will be forever with his redeemed consoling them in the New Jerusalem: “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, (for) the old order has passed away” (Rv 21:3-4).
- In the Book of Revelation, the saved will belong to God forever. This reality is expressed by God’s name they will bear on their forehead: “They will look upon his face, and his name will be on their foreheads” (Rv 22:4).
- In the Book of Revelation, the unchanging condition of those in heaven is described as God’s perpetual sun shining on them: “Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever” (Rv 22:5).
Heaven perfects our earthly being
- After a long journey of faith and moral actions, we will be called home to God.
- We had the chance on earth to bring our being close to God, but now the journey has ended.
- The Catholic Church believes that heaven is the ultimate perfection of our being, not its disappearance.
- Our earthly journey is a non-stop voyage toward the blessed Trinity where our being will receive its ultimate perfection: “Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Is 65:17).
- So, sharing God’s eternal life is at the same time an exclusive gift of God and a reward for our moral journey of faith. We are made to inherit eternal life.
- St. Paul compares our state on earth with our being in heaven like the difference between shadow and reality: “At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known” (1 Cor 13:12).
- Heaven is the fulfillment of our earthly life, a state of eternal bliss and happiness: “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor 4:17).
- Our human existence starts but will never end because the gift of life to us is irrevocable.
- Our human existence starts but will never end after we die because of Christ’s resurrection: ” But if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? … If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all” (1 Cor 15: 12 and 19).
- St. Paul, being aware of the perfection that heaven bestows on our being, ponders the heavenly glorious state versus our state on earth: “If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, (for) that is far better” (Phil 1:22-23).
- St. Peter points to the new universe in which there will only perfection, no more iniquity: “But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pt 3:13).
- The Letter to the Hebrews confirms that in heaven “the spirits of the just (are) made perfect …” (Heb 12:23).
- The Letter to the Hebrews makes it clear that holiness on earth will continue in heaven.
- What we do on earth will result in being united to the Lord or not forever: “Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).
- In the Book of Revelation, the old order will be replaced by a perfect new order: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more” (Rv 21:1).
- In the Book of Revelation, those who are saved will enjoy a state of blessedness with no more corruption: “Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him” (Rv 22:3).
- The perfection of our earthly state in heaven is called a “new name” that we receive from God: “Their true identity and their own name” (Rv 22:4).
- Therefore, those who share the divine life of the blessed Trinity will receive the ultimate perfection of their being.
- They will be who God intended them to be at creation.
Personal Judgement at the moment of death
- As soon as someone dies, they will be immediately judged by God: “Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment …” (Heb 9:27).
- At that time, they will receive their reward depending on the life they had: heaven, purgatory, or hell (God forbid).
- Not everyone will have the same destiny: “The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul – a destiny which can be different for some and for others” (CCC, 1021).
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus praises the clean of hearts who, immediately at the moment of death, “will see God” (Mt 5:8).
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus confirms immediate access to heaven for those who use their talents to serve his Kingdom: “‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy'” (Mt 25:21).
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus confirms that at the moment of death those who treated their brethren justly, will go straight to heaven: “And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Mt 25:46).
- In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus promises the repentant thief that he will enter heaven immediately that same day: “He (Jesus) replied to him (repentant thief), “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43).
- In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus implies an automatic personal judgment at the moment of death: “When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side” (Lk 16:22-23).
- St. John confirms that some of us will go immediately to heaven: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2).
- St. John explains that at the moment of death, those who enter heaven immediately “will look upon his face” (Rv 22:4).
- St. Paul leaves no doubt that at the moment of death we will see God face to face: “At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known” (1 Cor 13:12).
- The Tradition of the Church always taught that there is no need for the departed faithful to wait until the end of time to receive their rewards: “By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints … and other faithful who died after receiving Christ’s holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died, … or, if they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death, …) already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment – and this since the ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into heaven – have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature” (Pope Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus, 1336).
Universal Judgment at the End of Time: Resurrection of the Bodies
- When the human person dies, their soul will be immediately in the presence of God to be judged.
- The body will decay in the ground awaiting the resurrection of all bodies at the end of time (only the body of the Virgin Mary and the bodies of some saints remained incorruptible because of a special grace from God).
- No one knows when the second coming will take a place: “Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Mt 25:13).
- The final judgment of humanity by Christ at the end of human history is called the second coming.
- The angels told the Apostles right after Jesus’ Ascension: “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven” (Acts 1:11)
- The Letter to the Hebrews confirm the second coming of Christ in which all bodies will rise from the dead to join their souls already in heaven: “Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him” (Heb 9:27-28).
- If the soul is in heaven, the risen body will join the soul in heaven.
- If the soul is in hell, the risen body will join the soul in hell.
- In that sense the Acts of the Apostles relates that “both the just and the unjust will rise” (Acts 24:15).
- Yes, both the just and unjust will rise but to go in two opposite directions: “Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation” (Jn 5:28-29).
- St. Paul confirms this theology in the Acts of the Apostles: “I have the same hope in God as they themselves have that there will be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous” (Acts 24:15).
- The prophet Daniel clearly describes the resurrection of the bodies and their fate: “When that time comes, your own people will be spared, all those whose names are found written in the Book. Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace” (Dn 12:2-3).
- In the Gospel of John, Jesus said to Martha when he was about to raise her brother Lazarus from the dead: “Your brother will rise again,” and she replies: “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (Jn 11:23-24).
- In the Gospel of John, Jesus explains that the resurrection of bodies is possible only because of his resurrection. Jesus replied to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (Jn 11:25-26).
- The resurrection of bodies is possible only because of the divinity of Christ who received from the Father the decision to execute the final judgment: “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes” (Jn 5:21).
- After Jesus’ historical resurrection from the dead, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit on the Church to continue his work until the end of time.
- The Letter to the Romans confirms that it is the Holy Spirit who will be raising us from the dead on the last day: “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (Rom 8:11).
- St. Paul confirms the resurrection of the bosids at the end of time by writing: “For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thes 4:16).
- The second coming of Jesus Christ will happen when God decides to end human history.
- Nobody knows when the end of human history will take place.
- Of course some people will be already dead and others still alive: “God chose us to possess salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us in order that we might live together with him, whether we are alive or dead when he comes” (1 Thes 5:10).
- St. Paul explains what will happen to those who are still alive when the end of time comes: “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thes 4:17).
Old Body and New Body
- St. Paul taught: “But someone may say, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come back?” You fool! What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind; but God gives it a body as he chooses, and to each of the seeds its own body” (1 Cor 15:35-38).
- The risen body is at the same time in continuity and discontinuity with the old body.
- The old body is the seed, but the new body surpasses the properties of the seed and becomes a new creation.
- The grain of wheat is the reason why we have the plant. So the old body is the seed for the new spiritual body.
- Yet, the whole plant was not contained in the little grain.
- Similarly, the new spiritual body has its own characteristics that surpass those of the old body: “For while we are in this tent we groan and are weighed down, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2 Cor 5:4).
- St. Paul confirms that what we do in the old body will influence the glory of the new risen body: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes 5:3).
- The Book of Revelation relates that Jesus Christ will give those who conquer “a white stone with anew name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it” (Rv 2:17).
- “New name” is our new mysterious identity that God grants us: It is our new body with a totally new glorious state.
- Illnesses in the old body will not effect the perfection of the new body and are irrelevant in the resurrection of the new body.
- Having one arm or being blind will not influence the shape and the glorious state of the new risen body.
- The risen body will experience the ultimate joy that no human mind can imagine.
- We had moments in our lives where we were laughing so hard to the point of almost having a stroke.
- Multiplying this joy billion times wouldn’t even come close to what heaven will be like.
Transformation of the Universe
- At the end of time, the entire universe will be transformed into a new heaven and a new earth: “but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” (1 Cor 13:10).
- We don’t know how that will happen. The only thing we know is that “here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come” (Heb 13:14).
- St. Peter confirms the transformation of the universe by writing: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out” (2 Pt 3:10).
- The transformation of the universe is confirmed by the Book of Revelation: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more” (Rv 21:1).
- The fact that there will be a “new earth” at the end of time, should not be a reason for us not to care for our earth today.
- The transformation of the old universe into a new one is rooted into our universe here on earth, even though it transcends it: “Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectancy of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come” (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 39:2).
- St. Paul gives a summary of this new earth and new heaven by teaching that then God will be “all in all” (1 Cor 5:28).
The challenges of faith in the existence of heaven
- God created us to share his eternal glory and life.
- It is the will of God that every human person be saved, no exception.
- However, because of the limitations of our human nature many times we doubt the realities of faith. St. Thomas doubted the resurrection of Christ too.
- Despite our weaknesses, we should not allow doubt to destroy our hopes to be with God and share his indescribable glory.
- Our eternal redemption is God’s will and his will never changes.
- Keep in mind that our faith is a free decision of the will and not of the emotions.
- If we don’t feel anything sometimes, it does not mean we don’t have faith and it does not mean that God does not exist.
- The storm will pass soon and the sun will shine again.
Sharing Heaven with Those We Don’t Like or Love!
- Sometimes, we have a deep hatred toward someone wishing them to rot in hell.
- We must be very careful in going against God’s eternal will for everyone to be saved.
- It is a reality that some people we hate might be sharing God’s eternal life with us forever.
- How can we share eternity with someone we don’t love and like? The answer is purgatory.
- Purgatory will purge our imperfections, so we can love everyone and wish them well being.
- The Catechism teaches that at the end of time, everything will be renewed and purified because there is no communion between love and sin: “Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, ‘new heavens and a new earth’ … She will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that destroy or wound the earthly community” (CCC, 1043 and 10:45; Rv 21:1).
Definition of Purgatory
- Many people don’t accept the idea of purgatory because they misunderstand it.
- Purgatory is not the same as hell.
- Purgatory is not a “place” where people are burned by fire the way we normally imagine it.
- Purgatory is a state of being in which the person is purified before entering heaven.
- When a person dies having sins on their soul, they long to possess the supreme good, God, but they can’t.
- They are in the presence of God; they fathom the immense joy of the saints and they desire it immensely. They just can’t have it in full because of their sins.
- Purgatory is that fire of not being able to be fully with God that burns their sins.
- Purgatory is the fire of God’s love that is purging us to be able to fully possess the supreme good.
- Those who are in purgatory will “eventually” be in heaven.
Purgatory: Amending for Our Sins
- Sin disturbs the moral order and incurs punishment.
- In his love and mercy, God allows us to suffer in order to re-establish the moral order and bring our being back to the level God intended it to be.
- Somehow, we must make up for our sins and be cleansed of them: “For the wrongdoer will receive recompense for the wrong he committed, and there is no partiality” (Col 3:25).
- Now, there are two ways we can amend our lives and pay for our sin: temporal punishment or punishment after life.
- If we pay for our sins here on earth, then we escape paying for them after death. If not, we will have to be cleansed in the afterlife.
- In fact, nothing sinful can share God’s glorious nature: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC, 1030).
Purgatory in the Old Testament
- The belief that heaven or hell are the only two options at the moment of death contradicts the Bible. Why?
- The reference to purgatory is very evident in the Book of the Maccabees.
- When Judas, the Maccabees’ leader, found that those who had fallen in the war had sacred tokens of idols, he praised the righteous God who allowed them to die.
- However, he was worried about their salvation.
- Therefore, he and the Jews “turned to prayer, begging that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out. And the noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin … In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin” (2 Mc 12:42-45).
- The Book of Tobit describes God allowing his people to experience “Hades” and then bring them up again: “Blessed is God who lives forever, and blessed is his kingdom. For he afflicts, and he shows mercy; he leads down to Hades, and brings up again, and there is no one who can escape his hand” (Tb 13:1-2).
Purgatory in St. Mark’s Gospel
- In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus teaches his disciples: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna …And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another” (Mk 9:43, 47-50).
- What does that mean? Is fire here an indication of purgatory? Most likely yes.
- In fact, in this context Jesus invites us to a radical commitment to reject sin to the point of cutting our members that lead us to sin.
- By rejecting sin and cutting the sinful members of our body, we will avoid being salted in fire, that is the purgatory.
- The result becomes great because we will enter heaven directly: “It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna.”
- No matter what, Jesus here confirms that there will be punishment if we don’t cut sin away.
- But this punishment is beneficial for us because the “salt is good.”
- This punishment of being salted with fire is also necessary for cleasing because “if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor?”
- The results of this punishment of being salted with fire will create peace with God and the Church “Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another.”
Purgatory in the Gospel of St. Matthew and St. Luke
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches: “Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny” (Mt 5:25-26. See also Lk 12:58).
- Jesus was explaining that when we are going with our opponents to court, we must settle with them on the way.
- We must take the necessary actions to amend the wrong we have committed against them.
- If we don’t, the judge will throw us in jail and we won’t get out until we had paid off our debt to the last penny.
- Making up for our sins and re-establishing the relationship with others will help us avoid “jail.”
- in my opinion, “jail” is an allusion to purgatory.
- Amending our lives will save us the “jail” of purgatory in the future.
- Creating love and peace with our neighbor will help us pay for our sins to the last penny in this life and in the next.
- This text invites us to avoid temporal punishment by cleansing our sins in order to avoid the jail of the afterlife, purgatory.
The Most evident proof of the existence of Purgatory in Matthew’s Gospel
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches: “Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Mt 12:31-32).
- People sinned against Jesus because they didn’t know any better. He looks like any other man of his time.
- However, the sin of those who accused him of being possessed by an evil spirit is grave and serious.
- In this case, it is a sin against the Holy Spirit that will never be forgiven in this life or in the life to come.
- When Jesus confirms that this sin will not be forgiven in the age to come, he is implying that other sins will be forgiving in the age to come.
- This means that some sins will be forgiven after someone passes from this life to the other.
- The forgiveness of sins in the life after death is what we call purgatory: “As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the final judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come” (St. Gregory the Great, Dial. 4:39).
Purgatory in St. Paul
- St. Paul invites us to found our Christian life and our actions on Christ.
- The result of our work will be revealed on the day of judgment.
- If we haven’t done the greatest job, there will be salvation but after being purified: “For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ … each man’s work will become manifest; for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, the fire will test what sort of work each one has done … if any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor 3:11-15).
- Everyone’s work will be tested by fire by the merciful Christ: only he knows the deepest recesses of our hearts and all the details and circumstances of our actions.
- When praising the service and the mission of Onesiphorus, St. Paul prays: “May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day” (2 Tm 1:18).
- St. Paul here points to the mercy of God that will accept Onesiphorus and purifies him.
- Such a terminology does not imply a state of holiness of Onesiphorus; neither does it state that he is condemned to hell.
- If Onesiphorus needs the mercy of God and he is not in heaven nor in hell, he is then in purgatory.
- St. Paul alludes to the purgatory when he explains to the Corinthians that God’s judgment will help them escape damnation: “If we discerned ourselves, we would not be under judgment; but since we are judged by (the) Lord, we are being disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world” (1 Cor 11:31-32).
Purgatory in The Letter to the Hebrews
- In the Letter to the Hebrews, we are invited to accept God’s punishment as a sign of his love for us: “For whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges … He does so for our benefit, in order that we may share his holiness” (Heb 12:6 and 10).
- Such a punishment is necessary because it purifies us and enables us to share in God’s holiness.
- The purification ultimately helps us to share in the festivities of God’s eternal city in which the spirits are made perfect through purification by God.
- These spirits were made perfect after they left this earth which is an allusion to purgatory: “No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect …” (Heb 12:22-23).
- The Letter to the Hebrews continues to urge us to “strive for peace with men, and for holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).
- A holy life that establishes peace and eliminates sin, is the condition of possibility of “seeing the Lord.”
- Again, the terminology used here implies that the people without such a “holiness” (which is the result of purification) will not see the Lord.
- Yet, they are not condemned to hell either.
- So, where are they? In purgatory.
Purgatory in The Letter of St. Peter
- St. Peter teaches: ‘”In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Pt 1:6-7).
- St. Peter invites the Christians to welcome suffering as a preparation for their final destiny when the Lord Jesus is revealed.
- The Christians’ painful trials on earth will clean them like a refining fire in order to inherit an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading glory.
- St. Peter alludes to the temporal suffering as an instrument to help Christians go straight to heaven.
Purgatory in The Book of Revelation
- In the Book of Revelation, St. John boldly teaches that purification after death is necessary before entering the Kingdom of God.
- St. John affirms that being part of God’s heavenly city presupposes a complete holiness of life: “But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rv 21:27).
- By no means the description of the ‘”unclean” points to people who are already condemned to hell.
- In the entire New Testament, the condemned to hell described by Jesus are far worse than the category of the “unclean.”
- The images and terminology applied to the “unclean” and “condemned” are radically and completely different.
- This verse alludes that the “unclean” are not yet in the city of God but, at the same time, they are not in hell either.
- So where are they? In purgatory.
Purgatory in the Holy Tradition of the Catholic Church
- St. John writes: “There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written” (Jn 21:25).
- Because the Bible does not contain everything Jesus taught and did, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to extend in space and time his presence and teachings.
- The Holy Spirit of truth will ensure that the Tradition of the Catholic Church is accurate and immune from error.
- Based on that and from the beginning of her life, the Holy Spirit taught the Church’s Magisterium that purgatory is a matter of faith to be held by the Church.
- St. John Chrysostom summarizes the tradition of the Church in this way: “Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them” (Hom. in 1 Cor 41,5).
Can We Avoid Purgatory?
- When the Church canonizes saints, she confirms that they went straight to heaven.
- If a person lives in a state of total sainthood and leaves this earth, they will go to heaven without needing to be purged of their sins.
- Is it possible to reach the point of death and be without any sin?
- Yes: “We know that no one begotten by God sins; but the one begotten by God he protects, and the evil one cannot touch him” (1 Jn 5:18).
- How is that possible? The answer is love: “Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pt 4:8).
- Training ourselves to truly love others wishing the entire human race to be saved will perfect our being and help us to face God: “In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world” (1 Jn 4:17).
Definition of Hell
- Holy Scriptures is evident about the existence of hell.
- Those who go to hell experience “eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thes 1:9).
- Hell is not a “place;” it is a state of being: “Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy” (St. John Paul II, General Audience, July 28, 1999).
- God made the human person to inherit eternal life, body and soul.
- In the same way the body dies, hell is the death of the soul. Hell is the “second death” (Rv 20:14).
- The ultimate tragedy of hell consists in that we were created to praise God sharing his glory in exuberant joy forever.
- Hell is the negation of that: “For it is not the nether world that gives you thanks, nor death that praises you; Neither do those who go down into the pit await your kindness” (Is 28:18).
- The death of the soul is hell, and thus it is the deformation of the identity of the person: God created us to perfect our being, not for our being to “die.”
- Hell reverses God’s plan of eternal life.
- Thus, hell is the ultimate reversal of the person’s identity, which suffers eternal death instead of eternal life.
- In heaven, we pass from glory to glory as we are immersed in the infinite God.
- In hell, the human person passes from death to death of our being instead of its glorification.
- The being continues to exist but in a reverse state of being: death instead of life.
The Church Never Confirms That a Specific Person Went to Hell
- Hell exists even though the Church has never confirmed that this “specific” person went to hell: “Damnation remains a real possibility, but it is not granted to us, without special divine revelation, to know which human beings are effectively involved in it” (St. John Paul II, General Audience, July 28, 1999).
- Jesus said about Judas: “But woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born” (Mt 26:24).
- The Bible, however, never confirmed that even Judas went to hell. In fact, the Acts of the Apostles state that he went to “his own place” (Acts 1:25).
- Where someone goes after death is the exclusive decision of God.
- It is the Church’s responsibility to identity and confirm certain actions as grave sins, but deciding who goes where after death is totally and completely up to God.
- Because of the heroic lives of many saints, the Church has canonized many faithful, confirming their immediate presence in heaven at the moment of death.
- May all of us, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, inherit eternal life and be with God forever, body and soul.
Who Could Go to Hell
- This is what Vatican II says about hell: “Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it” (Nostra Aetate, 4).
- The Catechism summarizes hell in this way: “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell'” (CCC, 1033).
- From the Church’s teaching we deduce the following: If a person knows that Jesus Christ is our Savior who established the Catholic Church as an instrument of salvation, and they still deliberately rejects Christ and the Church till the end of their life, they are in danger of eternal death.
- Here are the four conditions that endanger our eternal salvation: 1) True knowledge of Christ as the only savior; 2) True knowledge that the Church was given by Christ all the means of salvation; 3) A deliberate decision to reject Christ and the Church; 4) A decision to reject them until the end of life.
- These four conditions that endanger our salvation were described by Jesus as the sin against the Holy Spirit.
- Here we radically reject to acknowledge that it is the Holy Spirit who is leading the Church to perpetuate Christ’s redemption in space and time: “Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Mt 12:31-32).
- These four conditions that endanger our salvation were described by Jesus also in St. Mark’s Gospel: “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin” (Mk 3:29).
- These four conditions are confirmed by the Letter to the Hebrews where our salvation is endangered if we decide to sin after knowing the truth: “If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries” (Heb 10:26-27).
- These four conditions in the Book of Revelation are applied to those who reject God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ: “The smoke of the fire that torments them will rise forever and ever, and there will be no relief day or night for those who worship the beast or its image or accept the mark of its name” (Rev 14:11).
- These four conditions are described in the Catechism in this way: “The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny … God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end” (CCC, 1036-1037).
God Never Predestines Anyone to Go to Hell
- In the teachings of Scriptures, Tradition, and the Magisterium, it is obvious that God’s will is for everyone to be saved: “This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tm 2:3-4).
- The Council of Orange (529) officially teaches: “God predestines no one to go to hell.”
- Because God exists outside of time, he already sees the entire human history, hell, purgatory and heaven in one glance.
- Therefore, God already knows who will be saved. He knows which “names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world…” (Rv 17:8).
- However, just because God already knows, it does not mean that he predestines some to be saved and others to be condemned.
- God’s eternal will which is our salvation does not change because we were created by him and for him.
- St. Peter rightly teaches that God does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Pt 3:9).
- Those who go to hell, they choose that fate freely and consciously: Hell “is not a punishment imposed externally by God but a development of premises already set by people in this life” (St. John Paul II, General Audience, July 28, 1999).
- God predestined us to salvation.
- However, our freedom is still authentic and we can decide to go to hell ourselves.
- In that case, our decision would be contrary to God’s will and plan: “In reality, it is the creature who closes himself to God’s love. Damnation consists precisely in definitive separation from God, freely chosen by the human person and confirmed with death that seals his choice for ever. God’s judgement ratifies this state” (St. John Paul II, General Audience, July 28, 1999).
Choosing Hell is Irrevocable
- The Church has always rejected the theory of apokatastasis according to which, because God is infinitely loving and merciful, the entire humanity will be saved at the end of time, even Satan and the devils: “God did not spare the angels when they sinned” (2 Pt 2:4).
- In the Book of Job, hell excludes the possibility of salvation and of leaving it: “As a cloud dissolves and vanishes, so he who goes down to the nether world shall come up no more” (Jb 7:9).
- In the Book of Job, the only light in hell is darkness with no possibility of being released from it: “Before I go whence I shall not return, to the land of darkness and of gloom, The black, disordered land where darkness is the only light” (Jb 10:21-22).
- The punishment of the damned is eternal according to the prophet Isaiah: “They shall go out and see the corpses of the men who rebelled against me; Their worm shall not die, nor their fire be extinguished; and they shall be abhorrent to all mankind” (Is 66:24).
- In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus calls the permanent character of hell “unquenchable fire”: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire … where their worm does not die” (Mk 9:43 and 48).
- In the Gospel of Luke, those who don’t enter heaven after the judgment will never enter it again: “After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from’… Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out” (Lk 13:25, 27-28).
- In the Gospel of Luke, the rich man buried in hell asked Abraham if Lazarus could dip his finger in cold water and help refresh him while in fire. Abraham replied: “‘…between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours'” (Lk 16:26).
- Abraham clearly indicated that there is an infinite distance between him in heaven and the rich man suffering in hell and that there is no way that once could cross from one side to the other.
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus confirmed that there will be an irrevocable separation between those who enter God’s kingdom and those who don’t: “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear” (Mt 13: 42-43).
- The Letter to the Hebrews summarizes the irrevocable character of damnation: “For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift and shared in the holy Spirit and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to bring them to repentance again, since they are re-crucifying the Son of God for themselves and holding him up to contempt” (Heb 6:4-6).
- The Letter of St. Jude calls the state of hell “eternal” for angels as well for those those committing iniquities: “The angels too, who did not keep to their own domain but deserted their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains, in gloom, for the judgment of the great day. Likewise, Sodom, Gomorrah, and the surrounding towns, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual promiscuity and practiced unnatural vice, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 6-7).
- The Book of Revelation describes the irrevocable character of hell for the fallen angels who lost their place in heaven forever: “Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven” (Rv 12:7-8).
- The Book of Revelation presents a horrifying picture of those in hell with no relief or change in their condition: “The smoke of the fire that torments them will rise forever and ever, and there will be no relief day or night for those who worship the beast or its image or accept the mark of its name” (Rv 14:11).
- The Book of Revelation confirms the irrevocable character of hell for the fallen angels as well as those who serve them: “The Devil who had led them astray was thrown into the pool of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rv 20:10).
- The Book of Revelation calls the unchanging character of hell a “second death” that once it happened there will be no life: “But as for cowards, the unfaithful, the depraved, murderers, the unchaste, sorcerers, idol-worshipers, and deceivers of every sort, their lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Rv 21:8).
Why Is Choosing Hell is Irrevocable?
- If everyone will be automatically saved because of God’s love, then the human freedom and the value of moral actions would have no more value.
- If the entire creation will be automatically saved because of God’s love, the entire divine revelation based on a free acceptance of God through our faith and actions, would be a lie.
- If the entire creation will be automatically saved because of God’s love, the redemption of humanity by Christ’s Cross, would be a lie.
- In fact, humanity wouldn’t need a redeemer in that case.
- Spiritual Message
- Repent and ask God for forgiveness.
- Use your will to decide not to go to hell and the good Lord Jesus Christ will help you.
- Rely on the maternal love and care of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
- A mother’s love is much stronger then hell.
Capítulo 22: El Cielo, el Infierno, el Purgatorio, y la Resurrección del Cuerpo
Cielo: El cielo es un estado de ser. No es un lugar de la misma manera que tenemos un lugar aquí en la tierra. Cuando decimos que el cielo es un lugar, es un lugar solo en el sentido de que existe y no en el sentido de que es un espacio. ¿Qué es el cielo? El cielo es la naturaleza infinita y el ser supremo de Dios. El Cielo es la Naturaleza del Padre, del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo que la mente humana no puede comprender. San Pablo enseñó que ninguna mente humana puede imaginar lo que Dios preparó para quienes lo aman. Entonces, cada vez que alguien piensa en el cielo, esos pensamientos serán inadecuados.
Cuerpo Antiguo y Nuevo Cuerpo: Cuando la persona humana muere, su alma estará inmediatamente en la presencia de Dios para recibir la recompensa. Al final de la historia humana, todos los cuerpos se levantarán de los muertos y el cuerpo resucitado se unirá al alma resucitada para que la totalidad de la persona humana (cuerpo y alma) esté con Dios. El cuerpo resucitado está al mismo tiempo en continuidad y discontinuidad con el viejo cuerpo. San Pablo dijo de la misma manera que un grano de trigo muere en el suelo y una planta de trigo crece a partir de él, entonces el viejo cuerpo es la semilla del nuevo cuerpo espiritual. El viejo cuerpo es la semilla, pero el nuevo cuerpo sobrepasa las propiedades de la semilla y se convierte en una nueva creación. El grano de trigo es la razón por la cual tenemos la planta, entonces el viejo cuerpo es la semilla del nuevo cuerpo espiritual. Sin embargo, la planta entera no estaba oculta en este pequeño grano; de manera similar, el nuevo cuerpo es un nuevo cuerpo espiritual.
Las enfermedades que influyen la forma del viejo cuerpo son irrelevantes en la resurrección del nuevo cuerpo. Tener un brazo o estar ciego no tendrá influencia en la forma del nuevo cuerpo levantado. Este cuerpo resucitado experimentará la alegría suprema que ninguna mente humana puede imaginar. Si tuviste momentos en tu vida en los que te reías tanto que crees que podrías sufrir un derrame cerebral, multiplica esto por mil millones de veces e incluso eso sería una pequeña muestra del cielo.
Desafíos de la Fe en el Cielo: Dios nos creó para compartir su gloria y vida eterna. Es la voluntad de Dios que cada persona humana sea salva. Por lo tanto, no dejen que ninguna duda destruyan su esperanza de estar con Dios y compartir la vida eterna de Dios porque su voluntad es tu redención eterna. A veces tienes un profundo odio hacia alguien deseando que se pudra en el infierno. Debemos ser muy cuidadosos en ir en contra de la voluntad eterna de Dios para que todos sean salvos. Vuelve a ti mismo, cálmate y date cuenta de que estas personas que odias pueden estar compartiendo la vida eterna contigo. El purgatorio purgará tus imperfecciones de amor para que puedas amar a todos con los ojos y el corazón de Cristo y María.
Purgatorio: Muchas personas aún no han aceptado la idea del purgatorio. El Purgatorio no es un lugar donde las personas son quemadas por el fuego de la manera que normalmente lo imaginamos. La teología del purgatorio es diferente. Cuando una persona muere teniendo pecados en su alma, en la presencia de Dios anhelan poseer el bien supremo, Dios, porque no pueden. Están en la presencia de la gloria de Dios Todopoderoso; lo miran y quieren poseerlo pero no pueden. Ese fuego de no poder estar con Dios destruye sus pecados. Es el fuego del amor de Dios el que los purga para poder llegar al cielo.
Los Fundamentos Bíblicos del Purgatorio: En el capítulo 9 de Marcos, Jesús enseña en estos términos similares “si tu ojo te lleva al pecado, córtalo”. Es mejor para ti entrar al cielo con un ojo en lugar de ir al infierno con dos ojos. O si tu mano te lleva al pecado, córtala, etc. … “Después de eso, Jesús elaboró un versículo complicado para interpretar, “todos serán salados por el fuego “. ¿Qué significa eso? ¿Es eso una indicación del purgatorio? Lo más probable es que sí, porque en un contexto en el que Jesús nos invita a un compromiso radical de rechazar el pecado (hasta el punto de sacarnos los ojos), confirma que habrá castigo. En ese momento agrega que “todos serán salados por el fuego”. Es el fuego que quemará nuestros pecados si no dejamos de pecar en nuestro cuerpo.
La segunda carta de San Pablo a los Corintios, al hablar de la salvación como resultado de nuestro compromiso con la fe y las buenas acciones, establece que “El trabajo de todos será probado por fuego. Esa persona se salvará, pero como alguien quien está pasando a través del fuego “. San Pablo está hablando sobre el juicio final donde el trabajo de todos será probado por fuego porque Dios conoce todos los detalles de nuestras vidas y acciones.
El otro más obvio es el Libro de los Macabeos, en donde leemos que las oraciones por los muertos expiaban sus pecados. Martin Luther, el fundador de la reforma protestante, abandonó este libro de la Biblia porque enseña que somos capaces de orar por los muertos y ayudar que sus pecados sean perdonados.
En Mateo, 10 las enseñanzas de Jesús podrían implicar el purgatorio. Él les estaba diciendo a sus discípulos, cuando vas con tu oponente a la corte, trata de resolver con ellos en el camino. Porque si no lo haces, el juez puede llevarte a la cárcel y no podrás salir hasta que hayas pagado el último centavo. Esta podría ser una imagen de compensar nuestros pecados para llevar nuestro ser al nivel que Dios quería desde el comienzo de nuestra creación. Crear amor y paz con nuestro vecino en lugar de una dura batalla en la corte, podría ayudarnos a evitar la cárcel y pagar nuestros pecados hasta el último centavo.
El Purgatorio es también una enseñanza en la Santa Tradición de la Iglesia Católica: Al final del Evangelio de Juan, muchas otras cosas que hizo y dijo Jesús que no estaban escritas en este libro. Si se escribieran, el mundo entero no podía contener lo que podría escribirse. Por lo tanto, Jesús envió al Espíritu Santo para continuar su obra de redención y para exponer en el espacio y el tiempo la presencia y las enseñanzas de Jesús. Jesús le aseguró a los Apóstoles que cuando él se iba, el Espíritu Santo descenderá sobre ellos y continuará enseñándoles todo lo que Jesús les había enseñado hasta el fin del tiempo. El Espíritu Santo prometido por Jesús es la Tercera Persona de la Trinidad que extenderá en el espacio y el tiempo (en la iglesia) las palabras y los hechos de Jesús. Él es el Espíritu de la verdad que se asegurará de que la Tradición sea precisa e inmune al error. Además, la autoridad de enseñanza de la iglesia católica desde abajo asegura que lo que el Espíritu Santo siempre ha enseñado a la iglesia, siempre revelará lo que está bien y lo que está mal en cualquier tradición. El Espíritu Santo inspiró al Magisterio de la Iglesia de que el purgatorio es una realidad.
Infierno: ¡Gran problema! El Vaticano II nos enseña sobre el infierno. Explica en términos similares: que si una persona sabe y está plenamente consciente de que Jesucristo es nuestro Salvador y que Jesús le dio a la Iglesia los medios de salvación, si todavía deliberadamente rechazan a Cristo y la Iglesia hasta el final de su vida, ellos son en peligro de muerte eterna. Estas son las cuatro condiciones: 1) conocimiento verdadero 2) de la identidad de Cristo y de la Iglesia rone 3) decisión deliberada de rechazar a Cristo 4) hasta el final de la vida. La iglesia enseña que si estas cuatro condiciones están presentes, esa persona corre el peligro de perder su alma para siempre al ir al infierno.
¿Es posible que una persona realmente sepa que Cristo es su salvador que estableció la iglesia como un medio de salvación, y que aún así lo rechazaría libremente hasta el final de sus vidas? Un ejemplo ilustra la complejidad de esta teología. Supongamos que conozco a una familia con un hijo Joseph quien es súper inteligente. Todos piensan que podría ser el médico para encontrar una cura para el cáncer, pero su familia no tiene dinero. Yo financió el dinero pidiéndoles a los padres que no le digan a Joseph quién era yo. Joseph se convierte en el médico más importante del mundo y, de hecho, si encuentra una cura para el cáncer. Un día él conduce su Ferrari en Roma y yo, conduciendo detrás de él, lo pego por error. Él sale de su auto y me golpea hasta el punto de casi matarme. Él no sabe quién soy. Si él supiera quién era yo, si yo fuera el que lo “salvó”, ¿Crees que todavía me hubiera golpeado? Si él supiera quién era y todavía decidiera golpearme o matarme, ¿Qué tan malvado sería él?
En mi opinión, muchas personas que creen que conocen a Cristo y a la Iglesia, en realidad no saben en el pleno sentido de la palabra. Pero si uno realmente sabe y aún decide ser malvado, ¿Es posible? Sí, porque tenemos libertad auténtica. La tragedia consiste de esto: Dios hizo que la persona humana heredará la vida eterna, el cuerpo y el alma. De la misma manera que el cuerpo muere, el infierno es la muerte del alma. La muerte del alma es el infierno; es la negación de la identidad de una persona que fue creada por Dios para heredar la vida eterna. Es el reverso del plan de vida eterna de Dios y es el reverso final de la identidad de la persona que “desaparece” en la muerte eterna. De la misma manera en el cielo, pasamos de gloria en gloria al estar inmersos en el Dios infinito, el infierno es la negación de todo eso. Es al revés entrar en más y más aniquilación del ser.
El infierno existe a pesar de que la iglesia nunca confirmó que una persona “específica” fue al Infierno, ni siquiera Judas, que traicionó a Jesús, fue al “lugar preparado para él” (Hechos, 1). La iglesia nunca identificará a una persona como segura se fue al infierno porque es la decisión exclusiva de Dios. Es responsabilidad de la iglesia identificar y confirmar ciertas acciones como pecados graves, pero decidir quién va a donde está total y completamente depende de Dios.
Debido a la vida heroica de muchos santos, la iglesia canonizó a muchos fieles que confirmaban su presencia inmediata en el cielo en el momento de la muerte. Que todos nosotros, por intercesión de la bendita Virgen María y de todos los santos, heredemos la vida eterna y estemos con Dios para siempre, en cuerpo y alma.