A sermon of the second century
|Let us seek righteousness so that in the end we are saved|
Let us therefore find ourselves among those who give thanks, those who have served God, and not among the wicked who are judged. Although I myself am a sinner in all things, and still ensnared by the devil, I aim for righteousness and hope to get close to it in the end; for I fear the judgement that is to come.
So, brothers and sisters, after we have heard the words of the God of truth, I read you this exhortation. I hope to turn your souls’ full attention to what has been written, so that you bring salvation not only to yourselves but to me as I read the word of God to you. I beg for this reward: that you should do penance wholeheartedly and thus bring salvation and life on yourselves. If we do this then we shall be able to show an example to all the young who want to turn their lives towards the love and goodness of God. And if someone sees our folly and tries to turn us from evil to righteousness, let us not be angry or indignant; for often when we do evil we do not pay attention to the fact – either from inner duplicity or from lack of faith – and our minds are clouded by our worthless desires.
Therefore let us be righteous so that in the end we may be saved. Blessed are those who obey these precepts: even if they suffer evil in this world for a short while, they will reap a harvest of eternal life. Let the good man not be saddened if he suffers present troubles: a blessed time awaits him, when he will be raised to life and will rejoice with his fathers through an untroubled eternity.
We should not be perturbed if we see the wicked living in comfort while the servants of God suffer want. Brothers and sisters, let us be firm in faith: in this life we are suffering trials that come from the living God, so that we may wear crowns in the next life. None of the righteous receive the fruits of their goodness instantly, but all have to wait for them. If it were otherwise, if God gave quick rewards for righteousness, then it would not be piety that drove us to good acts but a simple matter of business. We would see virtue not as a good thing but as a profitable thing. For this reason the judgement of God shakes a spirit that is not filled with righteousness and loads chains upon it.
To the one invisible God, the Father of truth, who sent us our saviour as the founder of our immortality and showed us the truth through him and the way to eternal life – to God be glory for ever and ever. Amen.