Mary Jane asked:

My brother asked me when Christ said to the thief, ‘this day you will be with me in paradise,’ doesn’t that say that we don’t have to go to purgatory and can instead go straight to heaven?

Patrick Madrid replied:

"In the case of the word paradise, it’s very likely that Jesus had in mind the place where Abraham and the righteous of the Old Testament era had died and were destined for heaven, but were not able to go to heaven because Christ had not yet died on the cross and thus opened the gates of heaven for us. That place is described for us by Jesus himself in Luke chapter 16. We see that Abraham was in this place of tranquility, now that was commonly referred to as paradise.

Everyone in those days understood that there was something called in Hebrew sheol, or in Greek, hades which was the underworld. In general, that was just the place where everyone who died went. Those who were wicked would go to a place of punishment. They were still in hades ... but there was a separate area reserved for those who were righteous and that was known as paradise ... It's very, very likely at least in the literal sense he was referring to the fact that he brought this good thief with him, preached to the souls in prison as Saint Peter tells us, then he liberated them and brought them all to heaven.

...In the case of the thief, he received his forgiveness from the Lord by his act of faith on the cross. Even if it were true, if you want to eliminate that time between his death on the cross and going into heaven triumphantly with Christ that’s fine ... Jesus is not restricted by the sacraments ... if he judges that somebody goes directly to heaven then so be it that’s how it happens. But it doesn’t mean that because one person has that special blessing of going straight to heaven, as we could say that the thief had it doesn’t mean that every other person has it.”


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Show air date: September 12, 2013

Question appeared in show: 48:28

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