07 February 2009

Fatherly Wisdom-God's Promises

From Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, in his commentary on the Psalms:

[God] promised eternal salvation, everlasting happiness with the angels, an unfading inheritance, endless glory, the joyful vision of his face, his holy dwelling in heaven, and after our resurrection from the dead the assurance of no further fear of death. This is (so to speak) his final promise toward which all our intentions should be focused; for when we have reached it, we shall require nothing more nor demand anything further.

Furthermore, our Lord also manifested in his promises and prophecies the way in which we would arrive at our final goal. He promises humans divinity, mortals immortality, sinners justification, the poor a rising to glory. Whatever he promised, he promised to those who were unworthy, so that it was not a case of a reward being promised to workers but of grace being given as a gift as its name indicates.

Hence, even those who live justly, insofar as humans can live justly, do so not through human merits but through divine help. No one lives justly unless that person has been justified, that is, been made just; and one is made just by him who can never be unjust. As a lamp is not lighted by itself, so the human soul does not give light to itself but calls out to God: " You indeed, O Lord, give light to my lamp."

But, my beloved, because God's promises seemed impossible to us--equality with the angels in exchange for mortality, corruption, poverty, weakness, dust and ashes--God not only made a written contract with us to win our belief [referring to the Scriptures], but also established a mediator of his good faith: not a prince or angel or archangel, but his only Son. He wanted, through his Son, to show and give us the way he would lead us to the goal he has promised. (Augustine, Commentary on Psalm 109 [110], 1-3; cited in Wright, Readings for the Daily Office from the Early Church, pp. 85-86.)

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