Updated: Jan 14
By Luke Lancaster
If somebody ever says that Purgatory is foreign to Christianity and is just a "Catholic" thing, take them to Luke 12. For Jesus Himself speaks of it, saying,
Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Truly, I tell you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.
Jesus is speaking of how His final coming will be like a thief in the night. Those who are prepared for His coming will enter into eternal life. Now, if a thief was coming to your house, it’d be difficult to sleep, cause there’d be a certain level of anxiety about his arrival. Same is true for Jesus and His disciples. They cannot sleep and commit the deadly sin of sloth, but must keep doing good. To drive this point home, Jesus speaks of four different disciples and their outcomes.
1. The first is ready for the thief, because he is a servant of the master and does good work for Him consistently. Heaven is his end.
2. The next is someone who is a servant of God, the Master, but does evil. He becomes slothful in doing good work for the master and beats his servants and is glutinous in food and drink. So, the master will, to translate it literally, “cut him in pieces” or “dismember him,” implying death, and put him with the unfaithful (Hell).
So far, these two options are typical of Jesus’ preaching. Such as his parable about the sheep and the goats. But, it gets more interesting from here.
3. The next servant is somebody who becomes slothful, but does not beat his servants. He does a less grievous in his laziness/unpreparedness in continuing in good works. He knows what he should be doing, but doesn’t do it. So, he gets a severe beating, and is not “cut in pieces” (dead). This man did not go to the extreme of beating his servants and committing gluttony. This is purgatory.
4. The final servant is somebody who does not know the will of the master who will come at an unexpected time. He does evil, but was not explicitly told by the master what to do. So, this man only receives a “light” beating. This also is purgatory.
Thus, as we have seen, Jesus speaks of Purgatory. This is from Professor of Sacred Scripture Dr. Brant Pitre's reflections.