IN HOPE WE ENDURE
From a homily written in the second century
For the sake of eternal life, my brothers, let us do the will of the Father who called us, resisting the temptations that lead us into sin and striving earnestly to advance in virtue. Let us reserve God for fear of the evils that spring from impiety. If we are zealous in doing good, we shall have peace, but there is no peace for those who, governed by human respect, prefer present enjoyment to the future promises. They realise neither the torment that is laid up for them on account of these momentary pleasures, nor the joy of the promises to come. And indeed it could be endured if their conduct affected only themselves, but as it is, they persist in corrupting the innocent, unaware that they incur a double condemnation, for themselves and their disciples.
So let us serve God with a pure heart, and then we shall be living as we should. If we fail to serve him because of our disbelief, we shall only be miserable. Wretched are those of wavering faith, says the prophet, the people who doubt in their hearts and says: We heard all this even when our parents were alive and day after day we have waited in vain for any proof of it. A vine, for example, first sheds its leaves and then the bud appears; after that there comes the sour grape and finally a cluster of ripened fruit. So it is with my people. They have had their tumults and afflictions, but afterwards will come their reward.
Therefore, my brothers, in order to obtain the reward, we must endure in hope with unwavering faith. He who made the promise to repay every man as his deeds, deserve will be faithful to it. If we do what is right in God’s sight, we shall enter into his kingdom and receive the promise which no ear has heard, no eye seen, no human heart conceived.
So let us live loving and upright lives, in hourly expectation of the kingdom of God, since we do not know when God will come. Let us repent at once of our great folly and wickedness, and from now on always be ready to do good. We should blot out past sins by being truly sorry for them, and then we shall be saved. We must have no desire to curry favour with men, nor should we think only of making ourselves acceptable to our fellow Christians. We should live upright lives in order to win the respect of non-Christians as well. The Name must not be blasphemed on our account.