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Treasures of the Fathers: Fourth Sunday of Tubah

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Does God Listen to Sinners?

The Lord Jesus…opened the eyes of a man who was born blind. Brethren, if we consider our hereditary punishment, the whole world is blind. And therefore came Christ the Enlightener, because the devil had been the Blinder. He made all men to be born blind, who seduced the first man. Let them run to the Enlightener, let them run, believe, receive the clay made of the spittle. The Word is as it were the spittle, the Flesh is the earth. Let them wash the face in the pool of Siloam. Now it was the Evangelist’s place to explain to us what Siloam means, and he said, "which is by interpretation, Sent." Who is This That is Sent, but He who in this very Lesson said, "I have come to do the works of Him That sent Me." Behold, Siloam, wash the face, be baptized, that you may be enlightened, and that you who before saw not, may see…

There is something in the words of that man who was blind, which may cause perplexity, and peradventure make many who understand them not aright despair. For he said amongst the rest of his words, the same man whose eyes were opened, "We know that God does not hear sinners." What shall we do, if God does not hear sinners? Dare we pray to God if He does not hear sinners?

Give me one who may pray: behold, here is One to hear. Give me one who may pray, sift thoroughly the human race from the imperfect to the perfect. Mount up from the spring to the summer; for this we have just chanted. "You have made summer and spring;" that is, "Those who are already spiritual, and those who are still carnal You have made;" for so the Son Himself says, "Your Eyes have seen My imperfect being." That which is imperfect in My Body, Your Eyes have seen. And what then? Have they who are imperfect hope? Undoubtedly they have.

Hear what follows; "And in Your Book shall all be written." But perhaps, Brethren, the spiritual pray and are heard, because they are not sinners? What then must the carnal do? What must they do? Shall they perish? Shall they not pray to God? God forbid!

Give me that publican in the Gospel. Come, you publican, stand forth, show your hope, that the weak may not lose hope. For behold the publican went up with the Pharisee to pray, and with face cast down upon the ground, standing afar off, beating his breast, he said, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner. And he went down justified rather than the Pharisee." Said he true or false, who said, "Be merciful to me a sinner "? If he said true, he was a sinner; yet was he heard and justified. What then is that, that you whose eyes the Lord opened didst say, "We know that God does not hear sinners ? Behold, God does hear smokers. But wash your inferior face, let that be done in your heart, which has been done in your face; and you will see that God does hear sinners. The imagination of your heart has deceived you. There is still something for Him to do to you. We see that this man was cast out of the synagogue; Jesus heard of it, came to him, and said to him, "Dost you believe on the Son of God?" And He said, "Who is He, Lord, that I should believe on Him? He saw, and did not see; he saw with the eyes, but he did not yet see with the heart. The Lord said to him, "You both see Him," that is, with the eyes; "and He that talks with you is He. He then fell down, and worshipped Him." Then he washed the face of his heart.

– St. Augustine, Sermon 85, NPNF, s. 1, v. 6, pp. 1104, 1107-1108

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