Do you think the literal number of those who are righteous and pious is clearly settled at “a hundred forty and four thousand” as written in the Book of Revelation 7:3-8 and 14:1-5? The exact number of 144,000 appears three times.
Article number 1138 of “The Catechism of the Catholic Church” says that 144,000 signifies “new people of God.”
In general, this number has a symbolic meaning representing all Christians, but some, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Unification Church, New Age movements, and the Shincheonji Church of Jesus interpret the symbol of 144,000 most literally.
If the kingdom of God belongs to 144,000 persons only, what would happen to so many others who claim to be God's children around the world?
Father Lee Keum-jae of the Jeonju diocese wrote “Shincheonji Fact Check” published by the Daughters of St. Paul in 2019. Shincheonji Fact Check seeks to explain the beliefs of the Shincheonji Church.
For the past 10 years, Fr. Lee, as a chairperson of the “Action Committee for Similar Religions” in the Catholic Church, has dedicated himself to helping many followers of Shincheonji leave that organization.
In the midst of the widespread coronavirus infections, Lee Man-hee, the Shincheonji leader apologized for the spread of the virus among the sect’s members. Various YouTubes are also sharing the testimonies of those who once fell into the sect but managed to get out.
I do firmly believe that the kingdom of God is not a matter of literal numbers, material figures or outward appearance but a matter of spiritual virtues such as love, mercy, compassion, communion, forgiveness, sharing, etc.
According to my faith inherited from my parents, the life in the spirit is not based on earthly power, material possession or wealth at all. If we have something, it is to be used for common goodness. In fact, nothing is ours. Even “time” is not ours. Everything is given as gifts to be shared with one another. My parents were not all that well educated, but they were willing to help others and share what they had with others.
To me, their lives are a good example of living the Gospels on earth. A true life witnesses the truth, and we learn how to live and love through the concrete testimony of others. I can dare to say that the truth is not a matter of doctrine, theology, ideology or denomination. The truth is life itself, especially the life in the Holy Spirit.
That’s why we unite beyond religious denominations, different philosophy or various ideologies. We can still cooperate with one another for common goodness in spite of all our differences.
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