Readings for Augustine of Hippo Bishop and Theologian (28 August 430)
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him” (John 14: 6 – 7)
“Augustine, perhaps the greatest theologian in the history of Western Christianity, was born in 354 at Tagaste in North Africa. In his restless search for truth, he was attracted by Manichaeism and Neoplatonism, and was constantly engaged in an inner struggle with his personal morals. Finally, under the influence of his mother Monnica, Augustine surrendered to the Christian faith in the late summer of 386. He was baptized by Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, on Easter Eve in 387.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 28)
John 14:6 -7 reflects the life of Augustine well as he was a deeply contemplative man who struggled to know who God is. He studied many of the spiritual paths of his day. Finally his mother, Monnica, was able to convince him to be baptized. Shortly after he was baptized Monnica died. We should be ever thankful for her contribution to Christian theology; she is another mother who gave us her son. While Monnica was coaxing him into baptism perhaps for his own soul, the Church has benefitted greatly because of her bringing him into the Christian fold.
“Augustine asserted that the Church was “holy,” not because its members could be proved holy, but because holiness was the purpose of the Church, to which all its members are called.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 28) Even today we refer to our Church as God’s one holy catholic and apostolic Church. The Church is here for us sinners. I thank God that there is a place like the Church for us.
Augustine also said “Do not think that God makes no use of evil.” He contends that “evil will either persuade you join it, or will cause the not-so-evil among us abandon their evil ways and follow you and do good.” Augustine’s point is that while God does not cause evil, God is watching how we relate to evil. Do we give in and join, or do we resist and draw people away from evil? This message is given every Wednesday in Holy Week here at St Paul’s. It makes us think about what lurks around us and in us. We must always be on guard.
After all his searching and visiting various faith traditions, Augustine finally listened to his mother and was baptized into the Christian faith, and we Christians have benefited from that. Thanks Monnica. At the time of her death she knew that she would not get back to her home in north Africa. She told Augustine not to worry because the Lord would find her wherever she was. She was a woman of amazing faith. Augustine of Hippo died on August 28, 430.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John+