Pope St Clement I was the 4th bishop of Rome after Peter, Linus and Cletus. He reigned as Pope from 89-100AD. The piece below is one of his letters to the Church at Corinth.
“Let us fix our thoughts on the blood of Christ; and reflect how precious that blood is in God’s eyes, inasmuch as its outpouring for our salvation has opened the grace of repentance to all mankind. For we have only to survey the generations of the past to see that in every one of them the Lord has offered the chance of repentance to any who were willing to turn to him. When Noah preached repentance, those who gave heed to him were saved. When, after Jonah had proclaimed destruction to the people of Niniveh, they repented of their sins and made atonement to God with prayers and supplications, they obtained their salvation, notwithstanding that they were strangers and aliens to him.
All those who were ministers of the grace of God have spoken, through the Holy Spirit, of repentance. The very Lord of all himself has spoken of it, and even with an oath: By my life, the Lord declares, it is not the sinner’s death that I desire, so much as his repentance; and he adds this gracious pronouncement, Repent, O house of Israel, and turn from your wickedness. Say to the children of my people, Though your sins may stretch from earth to heaven, and though they may be redder than scarlet and blacker than sackcloth, yet if you turn wholeheartedly to me and say ‘Father’, I will listen to you as I would to a people that was holy.
Thus, by his own almighty will, he has confirmed his desire that repentance should be open to every one of his beloved.
Let us bow, then, to that sovereign and glorious will. Let us entreat his mercy and goodness, casting ourselves upon his compassion and wasting no more energy in quarrels and a rivalry which only ends in death.
My brothers, do let us have a little humility; let us forget our self-assertion and braggadocio and stupid quarrelling, and do what the Bible tells us instead. The Holy Spirit says, The wise man is not to brag of his wisdom, nor the strong man of his strength, nor the rich man of his wealth; if a man must boast, he should boast of the Lord, seeking him out and acting with justice and uprightness. More particularly, let us remember what the Lord Jesus Christ said in one of his lessons on mildness and forbearance. Be merciful, he told us, that you may obtain mercy; forgive; that you may be forgiven. What you do yourself, will be done to you; what you give, will be given to you; as, you judge, so you will be judged; as you show kindness; so it will be shown to you. Your portion will be weighed out for you in your own scales. May this precept, and these commands, strengthen our resolve to live in obedience to his sacred words, and in humility of mind; for the holy word says, Whom shall I look upon, but him that is gentle and peaceable, and trembles at my sayings?
Thus there exists a vast heritage of glorious achievements for us to share in. Let us then make haste and get back to the state of tranquillity which was set before us in the beginning as the mark for us to aim at. Let us turn our eyes to the Father and Creator of the universe, and when we consider how precious and peerless are his gifts of peace, let us embrace them eagerly for ourselves.“
A reading from the letter of Pope St Clement I to the Corinthians (Chs 7, 4-8, 3; 8, 5-9, 1; 13, 1-4; 19, 2)
Prepared by Pontifical University Saint Thomas Aquinas