How can you believe in a loving God who sends people to hell? This is just one of the many questions asked by people who struggle with their relationship with God and their faith. Their hope of an inadequate answer allows them to keep God at distance and the ability to dismiss our very challenging faith; a faith that asks us to a live a life of trust in God and for others.
The answer to the above question is found in the Scriptures we heard this weekend. The answer lies in our free will and choice. There also must be a correction to their original question. It is not God who sends us to hell, it is we who send ourselves there by our choices! The souls in hell are not there because of God, but because of the individual choices that put them there.
In our reading from Sirach (also a choice Moses gives to the Israelites in the book of Deuteronomy) the option is clearly given: We can choose to trust in God and live for Him, or turn to the world and dismiss the teachings of God. Jesus confirms it in the Gospel, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law…but to fulfill [it].” And once again, we are given a choice, to follow Jesus Christ or not. So, let us be challenged by these readings. Let us look at the choices we are given, and let us choose to trust in God and serve those around us.
"Our free will is the only thing that is really our own. Our health, our wealth, our power - all these God can take from us. But our freedom he leaves to us, even in hell. Because freedom is our own, it is the only perfect gift that we can make to God" ~ Venerable Fulton J. Sheen