Daily Reflection
August 28th, 2002
Luis Rodriguez, S.J.
Rodriguez, S.J.
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
Memorial of St. Augustine
2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18
Psalm 128:1-2, 4-5
Matthew 23:27-32
1 John 4:7-16
Matthew 23:8-12

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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