Threat of hell is real for not being faithful to God, pope says

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Death and final judgment before the
Lord are not frightening if you live being faithful to God, Pope Francis said.

“It will do us good to think about this: ‘Well, what
will that day be like when I am before Jesus? When he will ask me about the talents
he gave me, what I did with them,'” the pope said Nov. 22 during morning
Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

Reflecting on the day’s readings, including the
responsorial psalm, the pope looked at the call of God: “Remain faithful
until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

The Lord will come to judge the earth, Pope Francis said.
However, some people don’t recognize that fact, deceiving themselves into
thinking the end is nowhere in sight, and how they live on earth has no consequences
after death, he said.

“I remember when I was a boy, when I’d go to
catechism they taught us four things: death, judgment, hell or glory — that
after judgment there’s this possibility” of going to hell or sharing in
God’s glory, the pope said.

But the kids were incredulous, he said, telling the
priest he was only saying those things to scare them.

The priest, he said, insisted, “No, it’s true!
Because if you do not take care of your heart so that the Lord is with you, and
you always live far from the Lord, perhaps there is this danger, the danger of
continuing to be distanced from the Lord for all of eternity.”

Pope Francis said people have to reflect seriously about
the kind of mark they will leave behind after they are gone.

People should think whether they have been receptive to
God and whether “the seed” of his word falls in the thorns or on
barren, perilous places or on good soil — when the heart is open and lets the
seed grow, he said.

Also ask whether the fruit that seed produced
was used for the good of all people or kept hidden away for one’s own benefit,
the pope suggested.

The Gospel says, “See that you not be deceived”
by becoming alienated or estranged from God because of the flash or allure of
superficial and worldly things, which includes “the deception of living as
if you shall never die,” the pope said.

When standing before the Lord, he asked, will people be
ready and waiting or will they be unprepared, surrounded by distractions?

“If each of us is faithful to the Lord, when death
comes, we will say ‘Come, Sister Death,’ like St. Francis. It won’t frighten
us,” he said.

“When Judgment Day comes we will look at the Lord
(and say), ‘Lord I have many sins, but I tried to be faithful.’ And the Lord is
good” because he has given everyone this counsel: “Remain faithful
until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

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