Pentecost Tuesday 2016
“In today’s reading, the Lord set forth a similitude about His flock, and the door by which one enters the sheepfold. Let the pagans say, therefore, “We live good lives!” If they enter not through the door, what does it profit them whereof they boast? For a good life must profit a man for this purpose, that it may be given him to live forever; what does a good life profit him, if it not be given him to live forever? Nor indeed can they be said to live a good life, who either in their blindness do know not the purpose of living, or are puffed up so as to despise it. But no man has a true and certain hope of eternal life, unless he know the Life which is Christ, and by that Door enter the sheepfold.
|St Paul Preaching on the Ruins, by Giovanni Paolo Pannini, 1744|
Therefore, such men very often seek to persuade others to live good lives, but not to be Christians. They would fain go up some other way, and steal and destroy (the sheep), and not keep and save them like the Good Shepherd. There have been some philosophers who have treated many subtle questions about the virtues and vices, making distinctions and definitions, who have put together many exceedingly clever arguments, who have filled many books, and have proclaimed their own wisdom from their prattling mouths. These even dared to say to men: “Follow us, embrace our school of thought, if you wish to live a blessed life.” But these entered not by the Door; they wanted to destroy, to slaughter, and to kill.” (Tract 45 on the Gospel of St John.)