Remember Your Night

Lenten Reflections 2015: Readings from Augustine

So some guy stole from you and is still alive, and you grumble against God because the guy who stole from you isn’t dead. But consider whether you yourself don’t now steal, consider whether if you don’t now steal, you once did steal. If you now are day, remember your night; if you now are fixed on heaven, remember your earth. You find that you were perhaps once a thief, and someone else was angry because you who had stolen from him was still alive, hadn’t died. When you were doing that, you remained alive so that later you wouldn’t do it anymore. Just because you’ve crossed over, don’t destroy the bridge of God’s mercy. Don’t you realize that many are going to cross over on the same bridge on which you crossed over? Would you now be in a position to grumble if the one who grumbled about you had been heard? And still you want God to vindicate his rights against wicked people so the thief dies, and you grumble against God because he isn’t dead. Weigh on the scale of justice a thief and a blasphemer– you say you’re not a thief but by your grumbling you’re a blasphemer. The thief robs a person of sleep because he might steal something, and you say that God is asleep and doesn’t care about human beings. You want the thief to correct his hand; well, you, correct your tongue first; you want him to correct his heart against people: well, you, correct your heart against God. Otherwise, when you hope for God to vindicate his rights, when he comes he may find you first. For he will come, he will come and pass judgment on those who persist in their wickedness, people ungrateful for his mercy granted, ungrateful for his patience, people who are “treasuring up wrath against the say of wrath and the revelation of the just judgment of God who will render to every person according to his works” (Rom. II, 4-6)”. (EnPs 93[94], 7; PL 37, 1196)

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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