“God does not command impossible things.”

For the first time in this blog the headline’s quote does not come from the Bible.  Rather, it is referred to in a commentary on Deuteronomy I’ve been reading (the Navarre Bible; read Deut 30:11-14).  It is from the Council of Trent’s document De iustificatione.  The full quote:

God does not command impossible things; when he makes a commandment he is telling you to do what you can to ask (his help) as regards what is beyond, and he helps you to fulfill it. (11)

Reading this, I immediately thought of the most challenging statement Jesus ever uttered:

So be perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect. (Mt 5:48)

It is not uncommon to hear persons say, “I’m only human” or “Nobody’s perfect” when they commit some offense.  But this is not the standard to which we are to hold ourselves.  It is inhumane to sin when we compare ourselves to the perfect man, the one we look to as fully human.  Can we be perfect on our own?  Of course not.  But what we often miss is that “for God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26).  As we just read from Trent, God can make up the difference if we conform ourselves to Him.  I am not alone at marveling at the great saints who lamented their shortcomings even though most would look at them as extraordinarily holy (see 1 Tim 1:15).  False humility?  Not a chance.  Rather, they realized more keenly than most the horror of sin and the distance it pushes us away from God.  When we come to this realization in ourselves and throw ourselves upon the mercy of God, begging His graces, we will be amazed at the progress we make.

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