Peter spoke up and said, “We have given up everything to follow you.” Jesus answered, “Truly, there is no one who has left house, or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands, for my sake, and for the gospel, who will not receive his reward. I say to you: even in the midst of persecution, he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time; and, in the world to come, eternal life. Do pay attention: many who now are the first will be last, and the last, first.”
In the 14th century there was a Franciscan philosopher and theologian called William of Ockham (c.1285-1347), who taught that the distinction between good and evil is the will of God and not the intrinsic nature of things. In other words, God’s commandments are purely arbitrary. So much so that God could command people to hate their neighbors instead of loving them, and thus make hate a virtue and love a vice.
But none of that is true. What is the source of all morality is not an arbitrary decree of God’s will. It is the divine essence itself as the source and exemplar of the universe. It is God’s being which is the source of any commandment issued from God. This truth is spelled out many times in the Bible, as we read, for example, in the Book of Leviticus: “For I, the Lord, am your God; and you shall make and keep yourselves holy, because I am holy” (Lev 11:44; cf. also Lev 19:2). By this we see that there is nothing artificial or arbitrary in God’s commandments. These only amount to imitating God. Isn’t that what parents expect of their children?
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