We are not Redeemed by Fear

Pentecost 26 Wednesday

Luke 21:28

“Yet when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

You say: “Indeed, I would like to wish the Last Day should be here, if I were pious and without sin.” Answer: If you are afraid of the Last Day, tremble because of it, and would like it not to come, you will not get rid of sin, even if you were afraid of the Last Day for a thousand years. For the damned in hell are not redeemed by their fear, even if they trembled because of it forever. In fact, this fear increases your sin more and more and prevents you from being without sin, even if you do everything you can to make satisfaction for your sin. Now, if you desire to be redeemed from sins, desire this more and more. And would to God that you could desire it to the point of shedding tears and desire it anxiously until death. For no one is better prepared for the Last Day than him who desires to be free from sin. And this is exactly what the Last Day will bring about; its work will fulfill your desire. Christ could not have depicted this Day more sweetly than by saying that it is our redemption. By doing so, he entices us to rejoice by a lovely simile about blooming trees, Luke 21:29-30. Therefore, see that you do not make into a liar Christ who calls the Last Day your redemption. Do not think that he is deceiving you when he tells you to look up and lift up your head when, until that Day, your sins and all misery of life bent and oppressed you. St.Paul writes about this in Romans 8:23: “We too yearn for the adoption as children and wait for the redemption of our body.” See how the apostle groans and desire to be adopted as a child of God and how he waits for his redemption. He does not think that he has already attained it. Therefore, we should in all earnestness avoid and let go of any fear and hatred of the Last Day and seriously begin to desire to be redeemed from sin. If we do this, we will not only be able to be sure, but we will also be able to look for the Last Day with rejoicing. See, then, that you do not deceive yourself and say that you desire the Last Day if you had no sin anymore, while you in reality are afraid of this Day because of your sin–not because you hate sin, but because you will no longer be able to sin when the Last Day cuts off your opportunity for sinning. You should not tolerate this evil and deceiving sin in you lest the light that is in you be darkness. For if you wholeheartedly hate sin, you nicely rejoice in the Last Day when your wish will come true.

St. Louis ed., 13.1:1011-1013.

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