Question: How could a merciful God condemn anyone to Hell?
Guest Answer: By Father Ron Brown.
For those who have a difficult time swallowing the salvation teaching, thinking "how cruel that is" or "Our Lord loved everyone" and similar nonsensical comments ... let's take a look and see what Our Lord did in His own ministry:
Our Lord performed many miracles ... in a sense, to save many from sickness and suffering ... he cast out demons from those inflicted with the scourge of Hell (demonic possessions). But in looking at those Our Lord did miracles for ... we see the salvation teaching being unfolded for us, very simply: St. John Chyrsostom tells us that no one should be saying that "If it was out of mere mercy that He saved, all men ought to be saved.' For even His love of man has a kind of proportion: depending on the faith of those that are healed." (Homilies on Matthew # 32).
St. John sees the miracles here in two senses: not only a physical or spiritual healing that may have been needed, but also in the sense of the "big" picture ... in the sense of eternal salvation! Did Christ act on the false concept of love that we have today? On the false sense of "mercy." No ... If Our Lord acted on the concepts that wordily people have, of false love and false mercy ... He certainly would have elected to heal everyone! But He did not ... he choose few ... and his selection was based on their faith: either the person believed or would certainly believe after.
When we look towards the great day of Judgement, or "Dies Irae" we see that "mercy" is only part of the story ... it is mixed with justice ... it has to be ... all people cannot be saved. If some thinkers and those lacking in faith see that everyone is somehow "instantly" saved, then all the miracles of Christ are worthless: again, He cured on grounds of the individual's faith. We don't find a single example in the Scriptures where Our Lord ever cured an unbeliever. When Our Lord approached a City ... He never left that City curing all the sick. Faith means something ... following the right way or the wrong way mean something.
St. John Chyrsostom tells us that Our Lord did miracles for those who "deserved them." The rest were given nothing (Matt. 13:58). Just imagine it: how few received miracles of healing from sickness and possession ... how many more were in need of miracles for healing and suffering? It is like those today, can you imagine ... who wonder "why didn't I win the big lotto jackpot ... I deserve it." And just as few win the lotto ... just as few really have true faith in all that Our Lord taught ... just as few really decide to give their life to Christ and follow Him, pick up their Cross ... it is the same with salvation.
Faith and salvation will not merely be about following some rules or rubrics ... it is not so technical as that ... it is all accepting what He taught and living it daily ... the application of His teaching in our daily lives: charity, love, kindness ... avoiding evil ... following the Ten Commandments ... these are absolutely necessary for salvation.
The follower of Our Lord will see accepting His Words, His Church ... and putting all these "difficult" teachings into practice as something of a joy ... a Cross at times, but a sweet one. The unbeliever will see all these things as a waste of good time: and just as Our Lord worked miracles for the believers ... He will not work miracles for the unbeliever ... because they reality is that they desire no part of Him. As St. Alphonsus tells us: the damned wish to go to Hell ... they prepare their way today!
So if we can understand that Our Lord performed miracles on the believers ... we see that miracles and salvation are closely tied together. These are granted only to people who deserve them, who see the importance of not only following the Laws of God and Holy Church, but who put such teachings into daily practice ... and as difficult as it is, remain kind and charitable in all things.