St. Augustine on Mercy and Justice
January 30, 2013 Leave a comment
“Who gathered the bitter sea of humanity into one society? All [people] are united by one purpose, temporal happiness on earth, and all that they do is aimed at this goal, although in the endless variety of their struggles to attain it they pitch and toss like the waves of the sea. None but you, O Lord, gathered them together…
But there are souls that thirst for you … These you water with the sweet streams that flow from your hidden spring, so that the earth may bear its fruit. You are the Lord its God and it bears its fruit at your command. When we love our neighbour by giving him help for his bodily needs, our souls bear fruit in works of mercy proper to their kind, for they have seed in them according to their species. We are weak, and therefore pity leads us to give help to the needy, aiding them as we should wish to be aided ourselves if we were in like distress. This we do, not only when it can be done with the ease with which grass runs to seed, but also by giving help and protection with all our strength. Then we are like a great tree bearing fruit, for we do good to a neighbour, if he is the victim of wrong, by rescuing him from the clutches of his assailant and providing him with the firm support of true justice, just as a tree affords the protection of its shade.”
St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, Book XIII, Ch. 17.