|Memorial of St. Augustine
2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18
Psalm 128:1-2, 4-5
1 John 4:7-16
The line Ama et fac quod vis (Love and do what you want), one of the favorite quotations from St. Augustine, is as beautiful as it is open to distortion. It is tempting to leave out the imperative “Love” and to focus selectively on “do what you want”. But, taken in its integrity, it actually points to the solution of the perennial tension between our spontaneous desire for self-rule and the faith invitation to allow our lives to be ruled by God.
Although that invitation was extended to us first at baptism, it is really a standing invitation that expects a gradually unfolding response. As we mature in faith and take time and effort to internalize the values we discover in the gospel, hopefully we grow in identification with the Lord and his message and we endeavor to lead lives that are consonant with gospel values and to filter out what is dissonant with them.
To the extent that such identification becomes more and more a reality
in our lives, it will be true to say that “we may do what we want”, precisely
because we will have been led to want only what we may do. This identification
is the Ama of St. Augustine’s phrase, an identification not just
with the Lord’s message and values at the head level, but with the person
of Jesus Christ at the heart level. Although it will never be a complete
reality in our earthly lives, it remains a legitimate horizon toward which
we keep journeying with the Lord’s help.
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