We Must Take Every Opportunity Of Repentance For Our Sins
This anonymous second-century homily is among a handful of Christian sermons that have been preserved from the very earliest days of the Christian church. It is bold in its proclamation of salvation through the passion and death of Jesus Christ, and its strong encouragement for Christians to stand firm in the faith and to live holy lives as a testimony to the power of God's saving grace and eternal forgiveness.
While we are still in this world, let us always be learning to repent. We are like clay in the hands of the craftsman and just as a potter shapes and reshapes a vessel he is making, if it gets misshapen or broken, he does not occupy himself with it anymore once he has put it in the kiln, so it is with us. While we are in this world, we must take every opportunity of repentance for our sins. Our salvation depends on it. Once we have left the world, it is no longer possible to confess one's sins or be sorry for them.
Brethren, if we do the Father's will and lead chaste lives and keep the Lord's commands, then eternal life will be ours. The Lord says in the gospel: If you did not look after a small thing, who will put you in charge of a big one? For I tell you that he who is faithful in small things, will be faithful in big things also. He says to us then, "Lead a chase life and keep the seal without blemish, and you will receive the gift of life."
And let none of you say that this flesh does not rise again for judgment. I ask you, in what circumstances did you receive sight and salvation except in the days of this flesh? We must guard our flesh then as God's temple. As you were called in the flesh, so your coming to judgment will be in the flesh. Christ the Lord who saved us was first of all spirit and then became flesh and called us in the flesh. And so we shall receive our reward in the flesh.
Let us love one another so that all of us may reach the kingdom of God. While there is still time and opportunity for a cure, let us put ourselves in the hands of God, our physician, and acknowledge his care for us. How shall we acknowledge it? By repentance from a sincere heart Nothing escapes his watchful eye and he can search our hearts. Let us praise him then not only with our lips but from the heart so that he may give us a father's welcome. As the Lord said: These are my brothers who do the will of my Father.
Anonymous second-century homily
Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing you have made
and forgive the sins of all who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.