Let us confess our faith in God by deeds


From a homily written in the second century
(Cap. 3:1-4, 5:7,1-6: Funk 1, 149-152)


The first benefit that we owe to his mercy is that we who are living do not sacrifice to dead gods or worship them, but have, through Christ, attained a knowledge of the Father.
What else is knowledge of the Father but the recognition of his through whom this knowledge comes to us? He himself declares: Everyone who acknowledges me, I in my turn will acknowledge in the presence of the Father.
This then will be our reward if we acknowledge him through whom we have been saved.
But how shall we show that we acknowledge him?
By doing what he says, by not disobeying his commands, and by honoring him not only with our lips but with our whole heart and our whole mind. For he says in Isaiah: This people pays me lip service, but its heart is far from me.
Let us not only call him Lord, for that will not save us.
Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will be saved, he warns, but only the man who does what is right. So then, brothers, let us show our faith in him by our deeds, by loving one another, by not committing adultery, by not finding fault with one another, or being envious.
Instead, let us be chaste, merciful and kind.
We should also have compassion for one another, and not be covetous.
We have to prove that we believe in him by performing such actions as these and by avoiding whatever is contrary to them, since we fear God rather than men.
Should we fail to do so, we have the Lord’s warning: If you do not keep my commandments, even though I had pressed you to my heart, I will thrust you away from me and say to you: Out of my sight, you whose deeds are evil; you are complete strangers to me.
Therefore, my brothers, let us enter the lists in the knowledge that the contest is imminent.
Many men travel far to contend for a crown that soon fades, yet not all of them win, but only those who have strained every nerve and competed fairly.
Let us so contend that we may all be crowned. Let us run a straight course in the race of the Christian life, setting out in great numbers to take part in it, and then striving for the crown with all our might. Even if we are not all able to win, at least let us draw near to victory.
Now we must surely know that even when the contest is for a wreath that lasts but a day,
if anyone is found to be breaking the rules, he is flogged and driven off the racecourse.
What do you suppose, then, will be the fate of the man who breaks the rules in the contest of the Christian life? Of those who have not kept the seal of their baptism unbroken Scripture says: The worm does not die and the fire is never extinguished. They will be a spectacle to all men.