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 revere 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 realize 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.
Spiritual Food for Hungry Souls
We should repent of our sins while we are still on earth. When a potter is making a vessel and it becomes misshapen or breaks in his hands, he shapes it again; but once placed in the oven, it is beyond repair. Now the clay in the craftsman’s hands is an image of ourselves, and it teaches us that, while still in this world, we must wholeheartedly repent of sins committed in the body and make it possible for the Lord to save us while there is time. When we have left this world, we shall no longer be able to repent and confess our sins. We must do the will of the Father, keep our bodies pure, and observe the commandments of the Lord, for this is the way to obtain eternal life. The Lord says in the gospel: If you have not been observant in small matters, who will entrust you with anything important? For I tell you that the man who is faithful in the smallest things is faithful in the greatest things as well. In other words, in order to obtain eternal life, we must remain pure and keep the seal of our baptism undefiled.
In designing his Church God worked with such skill that in the fullness of time it would resemble a single great family embracing all men. It can be identified, as we know, by certain distinctive characteristics, notably its universality and unity. Christ the Lord passed on to his apostles the task he had received from the Father: I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. He wanted the apostles as a body to be intimately bound together, first by the inner tie of the same faith and love which flows into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and, second, by the external tie of authority exercised by one apostle over the others. For this he assigned the primacy to Peter, the source and visible basis of their unity for all time. So that the unity and agreement among them would endure, God wisely stamped them, one might say, with the mark of holiness and martyrdom.