Tractates on the Gospel of John - Vol. 3

By St Augustine; John W. Rettig | Go to book overview
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TRACTATE 42

On John 8.37-47

OUR LORD, promised freedom to those believing in him in the form of a servant certainly, but not a servant. Yet certainly the Lord was in the form of a servant, 1. that form of the flesh was servile, but although there was a likeness of sinful flesh, 2. there was not the sinful flesh. But the Jews, as if taking pride in their own freedom, disdained to become free, although they were the slaves of sin. But the reason why they said that they were free was that they were the seed of Abraham. 3. We heard, then, when today's reading was read, what the Lord answered to them in regard to this.

(2) "I know," he said, "that you are the children of Abraham; but you seek to kill me because my word takes no hold in you." I recognize you, he says, "you are the children of Abraham; but you seek to kill me." I recognize the origin of the flesh, but not the faith of the heart. "You are the children of Abraham," but in the flesh. And so, he says, "you seek to kill me," for "my word takes no hold in you." If my word were taken hold of, it would take hold; if you were taken hold of, you would be enclosed with the nets of faith like fish. What does "takes no hold in you" mean? It does not take hold of your heart because it is not received by your heart. For so is the word of God, and so it ought to be for the faithful, like a hook for a fish; when it is taken hold of, then it takes hold. Harm does not come to those who are taken; for of course, they are taken for their salvation, not for their destruction. For this reason the Lord says to his Apostles, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." 4. These men, then, were

____________________
1.
Cf. Phil 2.7.
2.
Cf. Rom 8.3.
3.
Cf. Jn 8.33.
4.
Mt 4.19.

-150-

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