Who Knows What He Gave For Them

From Tractates on John, 48 (ca. 416-417)

They are sheep through believing, sheep in following the Shepherd, sheep in not despising their Redeemer, sheep in entering by the door, sheep in going out and finding pasture, sheep in the enjoyment of eternal life…

‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life.” This is the pasture. If you recollect, Christ had said before, “And he shall go in and out, and find pasture.” We have entered by believing… You may hear the undertone, as if Christ had said to [his opponents], “You shall perish forever, because you are not of my sheep.” No one shall pluck them out of my hand. Give still greater heed to this: “that which my Father gave me is greater than all.”

What can the wolf do? What can the thief and the robber do?… Of those sheep of which the apostle says, “The Lord knows them that are his” (2 Tim. 2:19) and “whom he did foreknow, them he also did predestinate; and whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Rom. 8:29-30) — there is none of such sheep as these that the wolf seizes, or the thief steals, or the robber slays. He, who knows what he gave for them, is sure of their number. And it is this that he says: “No one shall pluck them out of my hand;” and in reference also to the Father, “that which my Father gave me is greater than all.”

StAugustine (354-430) was a theologian and philosopher who served as Bishop of Hippo Regius in North Africa. He was a voluminous author, whose writings about God’s grace, the Sacraments, and the Church have been profoundly influential in the development of Western Christianity. His Tractates on John are a series of expository homilies he delivered in his cathedral in Hippo. His feast day is August 26.


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