WILLED BY THE MERCIFUL LOVING GOD.
The fact that some men will be damned is an object of scandal for many. How can it be that God, the All-Knowing, the Almighty, the Infinitely Good, should allow such a thing? Has He not bestowed upon man, made in His image, a supernatural destiny, eternal life in Heaven? If that is so, how can one imagine that certain men will be shut off forever from the vision of God which is their only happiness'! There are even people who, looking at only one side of the question, go so far as to declare that God has predestined some persons to damnation in Hell.
Let us try to shed a little light on this problem which troubles some people so much. You must understand first, of course, (what is so often forgotten) that human reason cannot of its own powers give a clear and satisfying answer to this question. Should we then despair? Not if we have any faith in God whose desire it is that the soul of man should be in peace. He Who is infinitely good does not want it his children to be in a continual state of anxiety about the question of their salvation.
Knowing the limits of human intelligence, He has chosen to speak to us - He has revealed the Truth. In matters like this we leave the field of purely human enquiry. We turn to God. We ask God to tell us, and we listen to Him. Those who do that will no longer be in darkness and night. They who follow in the ways of God, though like all men they are pilgrims on their journey to eternity, will no longer be travelling without guidance, anxiously feeling their way, but will be walking with a firm step, their souls at peace, knowing where they are going, their path lighted by the Light which is the Word of God.
GOD LOVES ALL AND HAS MERCY ON ALL. That is God's own answer to the anxious soul. There is no truth in all Holy Scripture which is affirmed with such emphasis as this is. Once this truth is grasped, the soul that was formerly filled with fear and despair can now become confident and at peace. Listen to the voice of God speaking to us through the Prophet Ezechiel: "I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his evil ways and live." Ez. XXXIII.
Do not think this problem is new. Even the earliest Christians were worried about it and both the Apostles Peter and Paul, those two great pillars of the Church, spoke of it in their letters to the first Christian communities. They keep on returning to this subject, and every time, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they plainly declare that God's will is that all men be saved.
"God", says St. Peter (II Pet. III. 9) "dealeth patiently for your sake, not willing that any should perish, but that ALL should return to penance"; and St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy, "We hope in the living God, who is the SAVIOUR OF ALL MEN." (I Tim. IV. 10).
It is clear from this that God could not love all men nor be the Saviour of the whole world if He had decreed from all eternity that some should be saved and others be damned. St. Paul returns again and again to this theme. In the same letter to St. Timothy: "I urge, therefore. first of all that supplications, prayers. intercessions, and thanksgivings be made FOR ALL MEN . . .; this is good and agreeable in the sight of God, our Saviour. who wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, Himself man, Christ Jesus. who gave Himself as ransom FOR ALL." (I Tim. II. v. 1-6).
Prayers, you see, according to the Apostle of the Gentiles, should be offered for all men because God wills the salvation of all. He is the God of all and His Son. Jesus Christ, died for all men.
If we are to explain the fact that some are lost, it is evident that we must seek the cause in some other factor than the Will of God - the reason is SIN.
The salvation willed by God is presented to man as a gift. It is a FREE GIFT, to be accepted or to be rejected. In the garden of Paradise, Adam, acting in the name of the human race, refused that gift and chose Sin. It is true that the Divine Creator, in His infinite mercy, love and goodness, offered that gift of salvation to mankind a second time when He sent His Divine Son into the World as a Redeemer.
But the gift is still a free one; it can still be accepted or rejected by man. Man can accept salvation or damnation. Acceptance of God's revelation and a life in accord with Divine Laws leads man to this supernatural goal; rejection of God carries man to Hell. If man sincerely wants to be saved, God will give him the necessary assistance. If man, on the other hand rejects salvation, God will not force him to be saved.
Man, not God, makes the decision.
- Malaya Catholic Newsletter, Saturday, December 3, 1950 (1950.pdf pp97)