Paradise vs Heaven

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In response to my article on the state of the dead, someone wrote:

I read your article on the state of the dead. I have just one question- If Jesus and the thief went to paradise that very day, why did Jesus tell Mary at the tomb a couple of days later that she was not to touch Him for He had not gone to the Father yet. Guess the Father isn’t in paradise huh? Maybe the Father was in Paradise and just didn’t want to see His son after the cross? Maybe, God the Father didn’t want to be bothered with seeing Jesus, He can be a busy guy I hear. Next time, read the WHOLE Bible.

He didn’t read the whole article, which says:

[T]he Church taught that up to the time of the Resurrection, people were in a place called Paradise (i.e. Sheol) awaiting entry into heaven, based on I Peter 3:19 …

Not in the context of Mary Magdalene, but it mentions Christian belief, which is shared by Catholics, Orthodox, and most Protestants.

David Gregson says on the EWTN website:

The limbo of the fathers is where the souls of the faithful departed were detained until the death of Christ, when He Himself “descended into hell” to deliver them and lead them to heaven (cf. Lk 16:22; Eph 4:9; 1 Pt 3:18-20).

Wikipedia says:

Several Biblical passages support the belief that people who lived good lives but died before the Resurrection did not go to heaven, but rather had to wait for Christ to open the gates of heaven. Jesus told the “good thief” that the two of them would be together “this day” in “paradise,” (Luke 23:43) but between the Resurrection and the Ascension, Jesus told his followers that he has “not yet ascended to the Father” (John 20:17).

The Catholic Encyclopedia says:

It is principally on the strength of these Scriptural texts, harmonized with the general doctrine of the Fall and Redemption of mankind, that Catholic tradition has defended the existence of the limbus patrum as a temporary state or place of happiness distinct from Purgatory. As a result of the Fall, Heaven was closed against men. Actual possession of the beatific vision was postponed, even for those already purified from sin, until the Redemption should have been historically completed by Christ’s visible ascendancy into Heaven.

Another perfectly valid explanation is that Jesus had not ascended, which he only did in Acts 1:9.  Mary was not to cling to him, in the sense of wanting him to stay, and not return to the Father.  This is a more accurate translation of “touch” – merely touching him was quite okay, as is shown in later passages, where Thomas touches him.

For more information, see the section on my website about the state of the dead.

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