by Ram Ritho
Q. Good morning! I was re-reading your messages concerning forgiveness of sins, purgatory and sainthood (cf. Q&A 38-40).
Where we seem not to agree is the matter of the criterion for getting into heaven. And my question is: will God at the end of my life look at the 2 sins I had committed before my death, I who has believed in Christ and surrendered my life to him, and deny me entry into heaven? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I am justified to enter heaven due to my past record. Not at all. What I’m saying is in light of some of the verses I highlighted before, this does not seem to be the reality of the matter.
A. Yes. God looks at every single one of your sins. He cannot overlook them or ignore them or pretend they didn’t happen. To do so would imply He was both not loving and not just: not loving because each lover wants to see their beloved perfect; not just because every judge wants to see every disorder repaired.
Q. Will He deny you entry into heaven because after having lived a saintly life you falter and fall into 2 sins just before you die?
A. It depends what kind of sins they are. If they are mortal, then yes, you will not be able to enter heaven; if they are venial then you will get into heaven after some purification.
Q. So a mortal sin 2 minutes before I die and end a saintly 14 or 58 years of life will bar me from entering heaven for all eternity!?
A. Yes. St. Paul is clear about it: “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21). He does not qualify that strong statement with “unless you’d been a good boy up until then”. Nope. “Those who do such things SHALL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.”
Q. But doesn’t that seem unfair to you?
A. Jesus explained it this way: Mt 25:1-13 “The kingdom of Heaven will be like this: ten wedding attendants (the more common translation has “virgins”) took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones, though they took their lamps, took no oil with them, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “Look! The bridegroom! Go out and meet him.” Then all those wedding attendants woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other attendants arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said, “open the door for us.” But he replied, “In truth I tell you, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.”
The ten virgins were all trying to get into wedding hall, like we all into the kingdom of heaven. And like ourselves, they too started off their journey well: they all got their lamps and went “to meet the bridegroom”. We begin living the Christian life and begin our march to meet the Risen Christ.
But when the bridegroom arrived – at judgement – the foolish virgins had run out of oil. Their lamps were empty. Their light had gone out. The lamps are our souls; the oil, the grace (or life) of God in us. The light of our souls doesn’t go out for as long as there is oil. Lack of oil is lack of God’s grace, a state we call mortal sin.
With our dead souls and empty lamps we and the foolish virgins get locked out of the wedding hall – of heaven. “The door was closed.”
And now the part that seems unfair: when these foolish virgins arrived at the door of the wedding hall, they called out to the bridegroom: “Lord, Lord, open the door for us.” The answer from inside is as clear: “But he replied, “In truth I tell you, I do not know you.”
Mortal sin, does something to our souls that makes it unrecognisable to God even if we were so close to the bridegroom earlier as to have been chosen as one of the “wedding attendants”.