A question about the possibility of divine justification, prior to Jesus’ perfect and atoning sacrifice, on the cross.


Question: In the Gospel of Saint Luke, Chapter 18, verse 9, we read the story of The Pharisee and the Tax Collector. In verse 14, it goes on to say that the Tax Collector went home justified, by God. I thought that prior to Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross, nobody was ever justified, by God. What am I missing?

Answer: Prior to Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind, God provided many types of opportunities for man to give God thanks and praise and to offer up imperfect forms of animal (and other) sacrifices to God, for various good purposes and intentions.

While none of those “forms” of worship (or even our best attempts at perfectly keeping the Old Law) had the power to destroy Satan’s power over man, or reopen the Gates of Heaven, they did serve to (imperfectly) please/appease God and impute a certain level of righteousness/justification to those who faithfully and correctly practiced them.

The souls of those who God considered to be “justified” in that manner, were supernaturally “marked” for eventual salvation, in Jesus Christ and subsequently detained in a special “place” in the afterlife – known (alternatively) as Hell, or “The Bosom of Abraham” – while they awaited the perfect and atoning sacrifice of our Holy Redeemer, on the cross, at Calvary.

Catholic Tradition informs us that Jesus escorted all those faithful souls to Heaven, while his dead body lay in the tomb, for three days and nights, awaiting his glorious Resurrection.