In our modern age of individuality and license, many people don’t believe in the final judgment, or if they do, they believe that Hell is only reserved for the spectacularly evil. Apparently, the theory is that Hitler and Stalin are in Hell, but the rest of us, no matter how egregious our sins, are on the journey to Heaven. I wish that I could tell you that their confidence is well founded. Unfortunately, it’s not. Wishful thinking is bad theology.
Brothers and sisters:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Why then do you judge your brother or sister?
Or you, why do you look down on your brother or sister?
For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God;
for it is written:
As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bend before me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.
So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God.
Paul’s letter to the Romans lays it all out for us. We will all inevitably be called upon to give an account of ourselves before Almighty God. Not everyone is going to Heaven. In fact, the Church’s greatest theologians have consistently taught that attaining Heaven is the exception, not the rule. Paradise isn’t as crowded as some people think. Unrepentant sinners need not apply. Only those who are truly humble before God will have a chance of entering paradise.
We must be works in progress. None of us is without sin, but the best of us are those who recognize their sins, confess them, receive the absolution of the Lord and go forth determined to sin no more.