From a homily written in the second century

From a homily written in the second century
Let us return to God who has called us

With regard to self-control, I believe I have given you good advice. No one who follows it will have reason for regret but will save his own soul and mine as well, since I have been his counselor. Indeed there is no small reward for converting an erring soul and saving it from perishing. Moreover, whether it is our duty to speak or to listen, we have it in our power to make some recompense to the God who created us, by speaking or listening with faith and love.

We must remain firm in our faith, therefore, and live upright and holy lives, for we shall then feel at ease and confident when we present our petitions to God, who says: While you are still speaking I will say: “See, I am here!” In these words the Lord makes a wonderful promise, and shows us that he is more ready to give than we are to ask. We all have a share in this extraordinary goodness, so the great blessings we receive should never make us envy one another. In fact, the degree of pleasure these words bring to those who live by them is equaled only by the condemnation they will bring on those who disregard them.

So you see, my brothers, that we have been given every inducement to amend our lives. We have been called by God, and now it is up to us to return to him while we still have time and one who is ready to receive us. For if we renounce sinful pleasures and practice self control by refusing to yield to our evil desires, we shall share in the mercy of Jesus.

You must know, however, that the day of judgment, like a flaming furnace, is already approaching. Sun, moon and stars will be consumed, and the whole earth will become like lead melting in the fire. All that each man has done, whether openly or in secret, will then be brought to light. Therefore, a very good way of atoning for our sins is by being generous to the poor. Fasting is better than prayer, but almsgiving surpasses both, for love covers a multitude of sins. Nevertheless, prayer delivers the soul from death if it proceeds from a good conscience. Happy the man who is found rich in these virtues; by relieving the poor, he himself will be relieved of his sins.

To make sure that none of us is lost, we must repent from the bottom of our hearts. Since we have been commanded to go out and rescue idolaters and to instruct them, is it not even more important to save souls who already know God? If we are all to be saved, we shall have to help one another and support the weak in their struggle to live a good life. When one of us does wrong, it is for the others to warn him and persuade him of his error.