“Divine wrath is good news. The Gospel is good news, after all, and the Gospel declares divine wrath over and over again. Indeed, the Gospel of Matthew records five long teaching discourses of Jesus, and at the end of each of them, Jesus speaks of the righteous earning an eternal reward and the wicked going off to eternal punishment (seeMatt 7:15-29,10:37-39,13:44-50,18:21-35, and25:31-46). Jesus frequently disputes with Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests, and scribes, and he does not shy from showing anger at their deeds: “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna?” (Matt 23:33). Jesus further reveals that He will personally come again to judge the living and the dead, promising that He will send “those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:29).
-“Job pointing to the abyss of Hell”, Book of Hours, about 1410, by follower of the Egerton Master (French, / Netherlandish, active about 1405 – 1420), Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink, Leaf: 19.1 × 14 cm (7 1/2 × 5 1/2 in.), The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. Ludwig IX 5, fol. 156v, 83.ML.101.156v, please click on the image for greater detail.
This can be rather surprising. Jesus says that he came that we “might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). He taught us: “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Jesus is rich in mercy, ever delighted to forgive sinners. But the fact that Jesus judges men and condemns some to punishment—even eternal punishment—does not oppose His benevolence to mankind or His mercy. Christ’s judgment is, in fact, a great mercy, for judgment establishes justice in creation.
Injustice marks our world. Men and women murder innocent people, deceive others, and abandon their families and commitments. Yet God does not deign to leave His creation in shambles. He promised to right every wrong, and punishing sin is necessary in that process. It is bad for anyone to profit in any way from doing evil, and God’s punishment takes away all ill-gotten gains. By Christ’s judgment, every murder and assault, every slander and lie, every theft and blasphemy will come to the light and be punished, and no profit from these evils will remain.
Even beyond restoring the order of justice, punishment is a medicine for the greatest spiritual sickness: sin. Sin warps us and taints us. The more we sin, the more we learn to love the evil we do. Jesus hates sin because it ruins the people He loves, corrupting them and deadening them to the divine life He offers. His message of punishment reveals just how ugly and offensive sin actually is. If the God who is all-knowing and all-loving despises sin with such intensity, we ought to hate our sin and our wicked desires. The revelation of divine wrath calls us to a conversion which demands our transformation. In Romans, Saint Paul describes our salvation as a result of justification. By grace, God makes us just. We can truly become worthy of eternal life if we allow God to shatter the sin that gets in the way of that. We should view all God’s punishments in that light, minding what He said long ago: “Do I not rejoice when [the wicked] turn from their evil way and live?” (Ezek 18:23).
Jesus, by His judgment, will establish lasting and perpetual justice, and this is good news indeed. In the Creed and the Te Deum, we even announce rather joyfully that Jesus will come again and be our judge. It is a happy thought since Jesus is not a judge “Who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but One Who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). He is a judge Who makes it rather clear how to attain a good verdict and how to find an ally on the bench: “You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from My Father” (John 15:14-15). There is no way to heaven but by judgment. By shunning the sin Christ hates and by trusting that He desires to justify us, we can seek his help to attain true conversion. By His grace, we will be made worthy—and thus be judged worthy—of eternal bliss.”
Love, and the infinite wisdom and mercy of His justice. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man. His justice is a mercy to those aggrieved.
Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "“Si comprehendus, non est Deus.” -St Augustine, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "And above all, be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force, because God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one, but only proposes, invites and counsels." –St. Angela Merici, “Yet such are the pity and compassion of this Lord of ours, so desirous is He that we should seek Him and enjoy His company, that in one way or another He never ceases calling us to Him . . . God here speaks to souls through words uttered by pious people, by sermons or good books, and in many other such ways.” —St. Teresa of Avila, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it. I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity… I wish you to enlarge your knowledge, to cultivate your reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to learn to view things as they are, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, what are the bases and principles of Catholicism, and where lie the main inconsistences and absurdities of the Protestant theory.” (St. John Henry Newman, “Duties of Catholics Towards the Protestant View,” Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England), "We cannot always have access to a spiritual Father for counsel in our actions and in our doubts, but reading will abundantly supply his place by giving us directions to escape the illusions of the devil and of our own self-love, and at the same time to submit to the divine will.” —St. Alphonsus Ligouri, "The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder . . . What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course, and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection." –St. Padre Pio, "Screens may grab our attention, but books change our lives!" – Word on Fire, "Reading has made many saints!" -St Josemaría Escrivá, "Do you pray? You speak to the Bridegroom. Do you read? He speaks to you." —St. Jerome, from his Letter 22 to Eustochium, "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, "God here speaks to souls through…good books“ – St Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, "You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine, "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls." —St. Alphonsus Liguori "Never read books you aren't sure about. . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" -St. John Bosco " To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer." —St. Thomas Aquinas, OP. "Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading." –St. Isidore of Seville “The aid of spiritual books is for you a necessity.… You, who are in the midst of battle, must protect yourself with the buckler of holy thoughts drawn from good books.” -St. John Chrysostom