The possibility of perdition for human beings is real. The Church has always taught this and it has not changed (COC #1022). In his Epistle to the Hebrews, Saint Paul speaks of those who are lost and those who save their souls: “We are not the sort of people who draw back, and are lost by it; we are the sort who keep faith until our souls are saved.” (Heb 10:39)
This is one of the reasons why our evangelization efforts are so important. With love and for love, we are called to make known the way of salvation that is Jesus to those who do not know Him or do not follow Him: God wants all men and women “without exception” to be saved (1Tim 2:4).
The word of God says that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”. It goes so far as to affirm that no one comes to the Father except through Him (Jn 14:6). This is central to the Good News. In Him, Jesus, humanity finds redemption, through His Blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the richness of His grace (Eph 1:7).
Through God’s infinite mercy, we can always be saved by saying “yes” to God, if we want to. But we have to will it: no one can or will do it for us, we have to want to. God does not manipulate our will (Maria Simma, 2002). When we say “yes” to God, he never refuses his forgiveness: Jesus told the adulteress, “Go and sin no more”: no reproach but likely a smile of compassion and love and the great joy of seeing his sheep found (Lk 15:3-7).
“It is not sin that most grievously wounds My Heart,” Jesus said to Sister Josépha Ménendez, “but what rends and lacerates It is that after sin men do not take refuge in It once more (…) I want to forgive them. It rests Me to forgive. I am ever there, waiting, with boundless love till souls come to Me. Let them come, nor be discouraged (…) I want to forgive, I want the world to know through My chosen ones that My Heart is overflowing with love and mercy and is waiting for sinners.” (Josefa Menéndez: The Way of Divine Love).
To proclaim the way towards eternal glory, to invite our friends, families and acquaintances to say “yes” to the love, the tenderness and the mercy of God, this should be our deepest aspiration. As Origen says in his homilies on Genesis, “enter by the narrow gate” and leave wide the spaces to those who are lost. “The night is far spent and the day is drawing near”, “walk as children of light”!
Pierre-Alain Giffard, Director of Pastoral Work