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Sundays with Augustine

December 18, 2006

“For this reason we must see how it is that we say what the apostle most truthfully said of God, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tm 2:4). Since not all are saved, but many more are not saved, it seems that what God wills to happen does not happen because a human will frustrates the will of God. When it is asked why not all are saved, the reply usually given is that it is because they themselves do not wish to be saved. This cannot be said of infants, who cannot yet either will or not will. If we thought we could attribute to their own will the babyish movements they make when they are baptized, we should say that they do not wish to be saved, since they resist as much as they can.

The words of the Lord in the gospel make the matter even clearer when he rebukes a wicked city with the words How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Mt 23:37) as if God’s will had been overcome by the will of men and the most mighty one was not able to do as he willed because the very weak prevented him by not being willing. Where is that omnipotence that has done whatever it willed in heaven and on earth if he willed to gather together the children of Jerusalem and did not do so? Or was it rather the city that did not want her children to be gathered together by him? But he gathered together the children he willed to gather together despite her unwillingness, for in heaven and on earth he did not will some things and do them and will others but not do them, but he did everything he willed.”

Enchiridion ad Laurentium de Fide et Spes et Caritate, 24.97

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