St. Augustine on today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 11

It might be, from time to time, that we take too much on ourselves. While it is good to tackle challenging things and keep our hands busy (for idle hands are the Devil’s workshop) we need to do things in in orderly way in life.

St. Augustine of Hippo speaks about how a Christian begins his undertakings:

You are to "take my yoke upon you, and learn from me." (Matthew 11:29) You are not learning from me how to refashion the fabric of the world, nor to create all this visible and invisible, not to work miracles and raise the dead. Rather, you are simply learning of me: "that I am meek and lowly in heart." If you wish to reach high, then begin at the lowest level. If you are trying to construct some mighty edifice in height, you will begin with the lowest foundation. This is humility. However great the mass of the building you may wish to design or erect, the taller the building is to be, the deeper you will dig the foundation. The building in the course of its raising rises up high, but he who digs its foundation must first dig down very low. so them you see even a building is low before it is high and the tower is raised only after humiliation. s. 69.2

The Doctor of Grace reminds us that we are not God. An obvious point? Not always and not for everyone. While he clearly states that it is not our’s to reshape the fabric of creation, in its most fundamental sense of bring it into being, nevertheless it is the task of the baptized to reshape our world. In order to do this according to God’s will and bring about good fruits, we must begin what we do in humility. We are not learning to be little gods, even though in this world we are striving for heaven where God will share something of His divinizing glory with us. For the most in our vocations we are to strive to complete and fulfill mostly mundane tasks, though God in His providence sometimes grants the holy heroic virtues and even the ability to perform miracles in this earthly life.

In humility we have our best possibility of success in even audacious undertakings.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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2 Responses to St. Augustine on today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 11

  1. Andrew says:

    Slightly off topic: but it’s summer!

    I was trying to look up this passage in Latin on a nice website “www (dot) augustinus (dot) it” but I got an error message that read:

    The specified CGI application misbehaved by not returning a complete set of HTTP headers.

    That’s what some good old Italian got by translating Italian into English with the help of a dictionary: “the application misbehaved.” I’m sure that’s how you say it in Italian.

    And that’s the kind of stuff that folks who translate Latin into English wind up with when they don’t know enough Latin, but they’re armed with a 20-pound dictionary.

    Just a thought.

  2. animadversor says:

    I shouldn’t be surprised if “misbehaved” were the English original. Web developers often enjoy using whimsical language in their error messages. One might equally well see “the application was naughty” or something similar.