You have dealt sweetly with your servant, Lord, according to your word (Ps 118[119]:65)... I believe that this means that you have made me feel delight in what is good. To delight in the good is a great gift of God. When a good work which the law commands is done out of fear of punishment and not out of delight in righteousness, when God is dreaded and not loved, it is the act of a slave and not of a free person. A servant does not abide in a house for ever, but a child does (Jn 8:35), because a love brought to perfection casts our fear (I Jn 4:18). You have dealt sweetly with your servant, Lord, by making one who had been a slave into your child.... [Augustine, EnPs 118/17, 1; PL 37:1547]

"I have not shrunk from your judgements, it says, for you have laid down a law for me (Ps 118[119]:102). He has stated what he feared so that he restrained his feet from every evil way. What does I have not shrunk from your judgements mean but what he says in another place: I am afraid of your judgements. I persevered in my trust of them because you have laid down a law for me. More inward than my inmost self [Interior intimis meis], you have laid down a law within me by your Spirit as if by your finger so that I might not fear it as a slave without love, but might, as your child, love it with a chaste fear and fear it with a chaste love. [Augustine, EnPs 118[119]/22, 6; PL 37:1565]

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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