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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Without Me You Can Do Nothing"

Faith which works through love is indeed a grace of God, because our believing, our loving, our doing works which we know to be good -- these are not things that we have attained by any preceding merits of ours but from the one who lavishes them upon us, and it is he who says, "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and I have appointed you that you may go and bear fruit." And that we may attain eternal life on account of faith, love, and good works -- this is a grace of God, because in order to keep us from turning aside from the good path, we always have need of that very leader to whom it is said, "Lead me, Lord, in your way, and I will walk in your truth." And also, as if he were saying clearly, "Unless I have you as my leader when I enter upon the way of truth which I have begun, by no means am I sufficient to hold to it."

So as not to falter in good works we ought always to rely for support on the help of the one who says, "For without me you can do nothing." Hence in order to express the fact that the start of faith and good action is given to us by the Lord, the psalmist properly says, "My God, his mercy goes before me." Again, in order to teach that the good things we do must be accomplished with his assistance, he says, "And your mercy follows after me all the days of my life." In order to show that the prize of eternal life rendered for good works is bestowed upon us freely, he says, "Who crowns you in compassion and mercy." He crowns us indeed in mercy and compassion when he repays us with the reward of heavenly blessedness for the good works which he himself has mercifully granted us to carry out. - Saint Bede the Venerable (+735) From Homilies on the Gospels, Book One, Advent to Lent. Translated by Lawrence T. Martin and David Hurst, OSB

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