Quote of the Week: Hans Urs von Balthasar

Quote of the Week: Hans Urs von Balthasar June 5, 2008

In the anteroom of heaven each of us will be purified until he has acquired the disposition of perfect poverty. If every dispute about mine and thine or about the penalty, reprimand, judicial discernment or reversal of judgment that is one’s due under law; if every possible distinction between mine and thine and every claim on God or neighbor, on whatever grounds it is based and whether it is raised in one’s own name or in that of a neighbor or of some universal world justice – if these ideas and concepts that have flourished in the domain of private ownership have not been relinquished on earth, they will have to be burned away in the fires of purification. But the hardest lesson to be learned there, the lesson that those who have been preoccupied with right and justice in this world will have to struggle to accept, is that there is no distinction between mine and thine even in matters of guilt; that they must see in every sin, by whomsoever it has been committed, an offense against the eternal love of God; and they must be disposed, therefore, to do penance, as long as may be deemed necessary by God, for every sin no matter who is its perpetrator. For it is impossible to enter heaven with a love less perfect than that of St. Paul, who, for the sake of his kinsmen, would gladly have borne their lot of being anathema from Christ (Rom 9:3), thus imitating the disposition of the Lord, who redeemed the world and established Christian love by a suffering that asked, not about the justice of the punishment, but about the grace that allowed him to suffer. This, then, will be the ultimate and absolute poverty of heaven: We will be purified of all thoughts of justice or retribution and ‘the justice of God’ will be ‘made manifest independently of the law’ (Rom 3:21), according to the law of the unfathomable mercy of God, in which all justice is superabundantly filled.

 –Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Christian State of Life. Trans. Sister Mary Frances McCarthy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1983), 127.

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