Monday of the Twentieth week in Ordinary Time
"If you wish"
Saint Clement of Alexandria (150- c.215), theologian
Homily «What rich man can be saved? », 8-9 ; PG 9,603 (trans. Library of Ante-Nicene and Nicene writers)
"If you wish"
This young man is perfectly persuaded that nothing is wanting to him so far as respects righteousness, but that he is entirely destitute of life. And so he asks it from him who alone is able to give it. With respect to the law, he is full of confidence; but the Son of God he addresses in supplication. He is transferred from one sort of faith to another faith. The ropes of the law protect him only poorly from the rolling waves; concerned as he is, he abandons this dangerous anchorage and casts anchor in the port of the Savior.
Jesus does not charge him with not having fulfilled some article of the law, but loves him, moved by his seriousness as a good pupil. But he says that he is not yet perfect…: he is a doer indeed of the law, but idle at the true life. Those things, indeed, are good. Who denies it? For "the commandment is holy," (Rm 7,12) as far as a sort of training with fear and preparatory discipline goes, leading as it did to the culmination of legislation and to grace. But Christ is “the fulfilment of the law to make righteous everyone who believes in him" (Rm 10,4). He is not as a slave making slaves, but he grants them to be sons, and brethren, and fellow-heirs to all those who perform the Father's will (Rm 8,17; Mt 12,50).
The expression "if you wish" showed the self-determination of the young man. For choice depended on the man as being free; but the gift on God as the Lord. And he gives to those who are willing and who are exceptionally earnest, and who ask in order that their salvation may become their own. For God does not compel (compulsion is repugnant to God), but supplies to those who seek, and bestows on those who ask, and opens to those who knock (Mt 7,7).
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