Monday after Septuagesima
February 10, 2020
On Doing Good
Meditation from Meditations for Lent from St. Thomas Aquinas by St. Thomas Aquinas
In doing good let us not fail. For in due time we shall reap, not falling. —Galatians 11:9
In these words, St. Paul does three things:
1.He warns us that we must do good. For to do good is a duty seeing that all things, by their nature, teach us to do good.
(i) They so teach us because they are themselves good. And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good (Gen. i. 31). Sinners have ample cause to make them blush in the multitude of created things all of them good, while sinners themselves are evil.
(ii) Because all things, by their nature, do good. For every creature gives itself, and this is a sign of their own goodness and of the goodness of their Creator. Denis says “God is goodness, something which must diffuse itself.” St. Augustine says, “It is a great sign of the divine goodness, that every creature is compelled to give itself.”
(iii) Because all things by their nature desire what is good and tend to the good. The good is, in fact, that for which everything longs.
2. St. Paul warns us, that in doing good we fail not. There are three things which most of all cause a man to persevere in doing good:
(i) Assiduous and wholehearted prayer for help from God lest we yield when we are tempted, Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation (Matt, xxvi. 41).
(ii) Unceasing fearfulness. As soon as a man feels confident he is safe, he begins to fail in doing good, Unless thou hold thyself diligently in the fear of the Lord, thy house shall quickly be overthrown (Ecclus. xxvii. 4). Fear of the Lord is the guardian of Life; without it speedily indeed and suddenly is the house thrown down, that is to say, a dwelling place that is of this world.
(iii) Avoidance of venial sins, for venial sins are the occasion of mortal sin and often undermine the achievement of good works. St. Augustine says, “Thou hast avoided dangers that are great, beware lest thou fall victim to the sand.”
3. St. Paul offers a reward that is fitting, is generous and is everlasting. For in due time we shall reap not failing.
Fitting: in due time, that is, at a fitting time, at the day of judgment when each shall receive what he has accomplished. So the farmer receives the fruit of his sowing, not immediately but in due time, The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth; patiently bearing till he receive the early and the latter rain (James v. 7).
Generous: We shall reap; here it is the copiousness of the reward that is indicated. With the harvest and reaping we associate abundance, He who soweth in blessings, shall also reap blessings (2 Cor. ix. 6). Your reward is very great in heaven (Matt, v. 12) (Sermon for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost).
Everlasting: We shall reap, not failing. We ought then to do good not for an hour merely, but always and continually. In doing good let us not fail, that is to say, let us not fail in working, for we shall not fail in reaping. Whatsoever thy hand is able to do, do it earnestly (Eccles. ix. 10). And right it is not to fail in working, for the reward to which we are looking is everlasting and unfailing.
Whence St. Augustine says: “If man will set no limit to his labour, God will set no limit to the reward.” (In Galatians vi. 9.)