A sermon of the second century
|Let us turn to God, who has called us|
The advice I have given about continence is by no means unimportant. If someone follow it he will not be sorry: he will save himself and me too, as the giver of this advice. It is no small reward, to take a lost and wandering soul and bring it to safety. For this is how we can pay God back for creating us, by making sure that whoever speaks or listens, speaks or listens in faith and love.
Let us keep firm in what we believe, in righteousness and holiness, so that we can trustingly pray to the God who told us Even while you are still speaking I will answer, Behold, I am here. This saying is a sign of a great promise, because it says that God is quicker to give than we are to ask. Since we all have a share in his generosity, let us not be envious of one another for receiving such great blessings. For just as these words bring happiness to those who follow them, so do they bring condemnation to those who do not.
So, brethren, this is no small opportunity for penitence that we have been given. Let us take advantage of it, let us turn to God who has called us, while we still have time, while we have someone who will receive us. If we renounce these desires and we conquer our souls and do not follow their evil impulses, we shall share in Jesus’s mercy. But be aware that the day of judgement is coming, a day like a blazing furnace, that a part of the heavens and the entire earth like lead melting in a fire, and all the deeds of men will be revealed, whether they were hidden or open. Therefore almsgiving is good, as penance for sin: fasting is better than prayer but almsgiving is better than both. Charity covers a multitude of sins, but prayer done with a good conscience liberates us from death. Blessed is anyone who is perfect in these ways: for almsgiving lifts the weight of sin.
So let us do penance wholeheartedly, lest any one of us perish. For if we have been commanded to draw people away from the worship of idols, and to teach them, how much more important it must be that a soul that already knows God should not perish. Let us help one another so that we lead even the weak to goodness, so that we may all be saved, may be converted together and guide each other.