Wednesday of Week XXVIII

“We know that the judgment of God on those who do such things is true.” (Romans 2:2.)

Origen of Alexandria (part 2 of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Origen) comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“The judgment of God is to be expected not only for those who do the things which are listed above but for all who have in any way done anything good or evil. What Paul wants to show here is that only God can judge rightly. For there are some crimes committed in which the deed is evil but the intention is not, e.g., when someone accidentally kills someone else. And there are other cases in which the deed may be good but the thought behind it is not, e.g., if someone shows pity not because God has commanded it but in order to win praise from men. And there are still other cases in which thought and deed are so interfused that one cannot distinguish which is good or evil. Given that only God knows the hearts of men and only he can discern the secrets of the mind, only he has the power to judge rightly.

God has judged rightly in the case of those whose iniquities have been forgiven by the grace of baptism, whose sins have been covered by repentance and whose sin has not been imputed to them because of the glory of martyrdom.

Rightness of judgment presupposes that the evil person will receive bad things and the good person good ones. Although the gifts and generosity of God do not allow of any dispute, nevertheless we shall show just how right the divine judgment is. It is commonly accepted that a good man should not be punished and that an evil man should not be rewarded with good. Suppose a man has at some point done evil. It is certain that at the time he was doing it he was evil. But if he repents of his previous deeds, turns his mind to the good and does what is right, says what is right, thinks what is right, desires what is right—does not that person seem good to you, and worthy to receive good things? Likewise, if someone is turned from what is good to what is evil, he will be judged now not to be good (which he was but is no longer) but rather evil, which he is now. For the deeds of both a good and an evil man pass away, but they shape and construct the mind of the doer according to their respective quality and leave it either good or bad and accordingly destined to receive either punishment or rewards. Therefore it will be unjust either for a good mind to be punished for evil deeds or for an evil mind to be rewarded for good deeds.” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans)

May your grace, O Lord, we pray,
at all times
go before us and follow after
and make us always determined
to carry out good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen