And am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants.
Read Chapter 15
Cornelius a Lapide
And am no more worthy to be called thy son. Because, says S. Jerome, I preferred to serve idols, and to be the slave of vices. "He does not presume," says Bede, "to ask to be treated as a Song of Solomon ," because, adds Euthymius, "his life had been unworthy of such a father."
Make me as one of thy hired servants. I have forfeited my position as Song of Solomon , but cast me not out of thy presence, suffer me to take the lowest place in thy household, says Euthymius, that I may make open confession of my sin. For formerly those who had been put to public penance were not allowed to enter the church, but knelt without, humbly asking the prayers and the pardon of all, as S. Jerome tells us that Fabiola did.
These, says S. Augustine (lib. ii. Qust. Evang. q33), are the words of one who is turning his thoughts to repentance, not of one actually repentant. For he is not addressing his father, but only determining what to say when he meets him. "But," says Primasius, commenting on Rev. iv, "as the smoke precedes the flame, so must there be confession of sin before the fires of faith and love are kindled in the sinner"s heart. Hence the smoke bursts into flame as the fire gains power and intensity; so in like manner confession of sin through force of contrition burns up and becomes aflame with love."