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May 2017 Mailbox

Q. Revelation 7:1–8 says that only 144,000 people are the elect of God and will be saved. What happens to the billions who aren’t part of this small group?

A. With the exception of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the vast majority of Christian traditions and the biblical scholars of mainstream religious traditions agree that 144,000 is a symbolic number used by the author of Revelation to mean a great multitude. The number was never intended to be anything other than symbolic and doesn’t reflect an accurate accounting on a heavenly ledger.

Q. I recently heard a presentation on the sacrament of reconciliation. The presenter mentioned canonical penalties. Now I’m concerned that I might have some of these penalties. What should I do?

A. A canonical penalty is a punishment for violating Church law (as opposed to violating one of the Ten Commandments). I can’t imagine why anyone would mention canonical penalties in a discussion of the sacrament of reconciliation because the Church applies these penalties only in very serious circumstances—never for routine behaviors and practices.

Don’t let your heart be troubled by this issue. It’s really of little concern to you and only heightens your anxiety and complicates celebration of the sacrament. It’s an unnecessary worry and concern.

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