Paragraphs 52 through 56 lie under the title of “An often overlooked Church teaching.” What does the Holy Father mean by that? Let’s talk justification, and the roots of that doctrine even prior to Augustine:
52. The Church has repeatedly taught that we are justified not by our own works or efforts, but by the grace of the Lord, who always takes the initiative. The Fathers of the Church, even before Saint Augustine, clearly expressed this fundamental belief. Saint John Chrysostom said that God pours into us the very source of all his gifts even before we enter into battle. [Cf. In Ep. ad Romanos, 9, 11: PG 60, 470] Saint Basil the Great remarked that the faithful glory in God alone, for “they realize that they lack true justice and are justified only through faith in Christ”. [Homilia de Humilitate: PG 31, 530]
A few quick observations. I doubt John Chrysostom is speaking of personal battles, but rather of the ageless struggle between good and evil, of which each individual is a small part. Ignatius of Loyola offered a similar image, urging his disciples to consider themselves gathered under the military banner of Christ. If we are part of an army, far be it from any of us to assume command.
Basil keeps us focused: in this life any justice is incomplete. And the ultimate justice is not our call, but that of the Lord. More on this in the days ahead.