Paying Our Debt

St Vincent Ferrer

The Lord sends us tribulation and infirmities to give us the means of paying the immense debts we have contracted with Him. Therefore, those who have good sense receive them joyfully, for they think more of the good which they may derive from them than of the pain which they experience on account of them. -St. Vincent Ferrer

This Saint unfolded this same sentiment more fully in a sermon which contained this pleasing parable: There was a king who had in prison two men who both owed him large sums of money. Seeing that they were unable to pay, because they possessed nothing, he threw down a purse full of money upon each of them with so much force that they both felt the pain. One, angry at the blow, showed his impatience without making any account of the purse; but the other, not regarding the pain, recognized the favor done him, and, taking the purse, gave thanks to the king, and paid his debt with the money. “Now, precisely the same thing happens with us,” added the Saint. “We all owe heavy debts to God for the many benefits we have received from Him, and for the many sins we have committed against Him, nor have we anything of our own to pay them. Therefore, moved by pity for us, He sends us the gold of patience in the purse of tribulations, that we may use it to pay our debts. Whoever will not do this, only increases his debts and renders himself, at the same time, more displeasing to God.”

The example of the two thieves crucified with Christ, confirms this truth. By his patience, one paid his debts and gained Paradise; while the other, by his impatience, made himself more than ever a debtor, and obtained for himself eternal pains.

Illustration from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922). Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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