My brothers and sisters in Christ, the Church gives us our readings to prepare us for the coming of the end of time and the 2nd coming of Christ in Glory. Truly we are drawing near to the end, as next week is the last Sunday in Ordinary time in which we proclaim Christ to be King of the Universe, before we begin the new liturgical year with the season of Advent in just 2 weeks. Instead of focusing on our readings directly, today I want to proclaim what the Church calls the 4 last things- Judgment, Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. On Monday, I talked to our brothers and sisters who are possibly becoming Catholic in the RCIA process on these last things, and it was brought to my attention that maybe not all this truth, or the Scripture it comes from, is known by the average Catholic. In the month of November, beginning with All Souls day, the Church calls us to pray in a special way for all the souls in purgatory. I hope this teaching will be a reminder for many of you, but will be convicting to all of us, and hopefully inspire us to do more for our deceased and living loved ones and neighbors.
Genesis tells us that every human person was made in the image and likeness of God, and made with a soul and a body, by God and for God. Thus, our souls are eternal, they were made to live forever. But because of the sin of our 1st parents, Adam and Eve, death entered the world and so our bodies die, but our souls will not. When we die there will be a final judgment, in which God will judge and determine where our souls go for all eternity- either to eternal life in Heaven or eternal death in Hell. One can think of the parable of the weeds and the wheat Jesus teaches in Matthew 13, in which in the last days, at harvest time so to speak, the Angels will collect the weeds, that is all evildoers who cause others to sin, and they’ll be thrown into a fiery furnace will there will be wailing and grinding of teeth, but the wheat, that is the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.
Wisdom 2:24 says, “by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it”. Even though many people do not believe in Satan or in Hell, hell is a reality. Scripture is very clear, Satan and Hell do exist and he wants every soul to experience death for all eternity. Scripture calls Satan ‘a liar and deceiver, who is out for our destruction’. Because the devil chose to disobey God and chose to separate himself for all eternity from God, then Satan does all he can to make others not believe in a loving God. In fact, the tactic of the devil is to get people to believe that he doesn’t exist, because many think if Satan doesn’t exist than neither would God. Think about perhaps your loved ones and neighbors who do not have a care about if God or Satan exists and are only concerned with this life. Think about the growing number of Atheists and Agnostics in the world, do you think Satan is having his way? Our Lord appeared to Sister Faustina and revealed his true self, as a God of mercy. Speaking of Hell, Jesus said to St Faustina, "Most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell". Hell is eternal separation from God, everlasting punishment, and endless pain. Hell is knowing there is a loving and merciful God, knowing that they chose not to believe in or accept that truth, and thus have to live with that dreadful decision for all eternity.
However, 1Tim 2:4 says that "God wills everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth". We will all know the truth, but the final judgement is if we will choose the truth or not. This life is all we have, our death is the time of our final judgement. But also, this life is our preparation for all eternity. God desires us all to be with Him in eternal life, but we have free will. If we choose to disobey God, and choose not to repent, then we choose to be separated from God in Hell for all eternity. What and who we choose to live for has eternal consequences. I ask you to reflect on who are you living for- who are your loved ones living for? And I hope you realize that one can come to Mass, even regularly, but still not be living for God. When is the last time you repented in the Sacrament of Confession and received God’s mercy? Now is the time to repent and ask for God’s mercy. No one knows when the time of our death will be, hopefully every siren we hear and accident we see reminds us that no one knows the day or hour, as the end of our Gospel today says. Once again, Jesus said through St. Maria Faustina- "My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it". God does not want anyone to go to hell, but God will give what we choose to live for, so really every soul in Hell knows that is where they chose, and they have to live with that choice for all eternity in Hell.
Heaven, on the other hand, is where our desire for true happiness finds its fulfillment. So, if we repent and choose to live for God, what will Heaven be like? 1 Cor 2:9 says, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not even entered the human heart, is what God has prepared for those who love Him”. St. Maria Faustina testifies- "Incomprehensible is the happiness in which the soul will be immersed". We cannot even imagine what God has made for those who love Him.
Likewise, 1 John 3:1-3 says, “See what the love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is because it did not know Him. 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. Everyone who has this hope based on Him makes himself pure, as He is pure”. And so, God has made us children of God, but yet this verse also speaks of a future not yet attained, but when it is attained we shall be like him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope makes himself pure, as He is pure”. Therefore, Heaven is seeing God face to face, it is for those who has become like Him, and who has become pure just as God is perfectly pure.
If you are wanting, but not yet ready to see God face to face, if you are not yet perfectly pure as God is, then we have a lot to do. And this is where the concept of Purgatory comes in. Hell is eternal death, Heaven is eternal life, but Purgatory is a temporary purification to make us ready to receive the fulfillment of Heaven. Purgatory is for all people who will be saved and will go to Heaven, who have chosen eternal life but still has remnants of sin on our souls. Listen to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1472- "Grave sin (mortal sin) deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the 'eternal punishment' of sin. On the other hand, every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the 'temporal punishment' of sin. Purgatory is purification for our every attachment to sin and paying back the consequences of sin. Perhaps an analogy will be helpful, say a child throws a rock through a neighbor’s window. His father and the neighbor might forgive him for breaking the window, but the window is still broken, and so a good father will make the child do something to pay back what he broke. Thus, every good deed done, every moment in prayer, our suffering on earth, and finally, if needed, purgatory is paying back the consequences of our sins, and can be applied to the sins of others. Besides describing Heaven as where nothing unclean enters (Rev 21:27) and only for those who are perfectly pure, Scripture also speaks of the concept of purgatory. Chapter 12 of 2nd Maccabees, which is only in Catholic bibles, gives the story of soldiers who believed in God and were fighting the good fight, but they also had deep seated beliefs and superstitions that they were attached to, so hadn’t put their whole trust in God. Thus, upon their death, Judas Maccabee and their comrades prayed, and gave money to pay for a sacrifice to be offered for their fallen friends. And 2nd Maccabee 12 says, their having the resurrection of the dead in mind, praying and sacrificing for their friends who had died was a very good thing. This Scripture is where the Church supports the practice of praying, fasting, and having a Mass said for a fallen loved one and all the Souls in purgatory, who are prayed for in every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Finally, my brothers and sisters, every soul in purgatory is suffering, they are suffering and being purified because they are not yet with God for all eternity. The image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus reveals that Jesus’ heart is burning with love for us, and it is Jesus’ burning heart which purifies every soul until it is like His. Friends, every moment in prayer, especially Adoration, is God’s love burning and purifying our hearts. Every soul in purgatory wishes they would have done more praying, more repenting, more fasting, more sacrificing while on this earth. So, let us heed what the souls wish they would done more of, let us pray, fast, and sacrifice, as a reparation for the consequences of our sins, as well as theirs, and let us strive with our hearts, and I mean all of our hearts, not for purgatory, but for Heaven, for our eternity depends upon it.BACK TO LIST