Readings for Thursday October 15, 2009
First Reading: Romans 3:21-30
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 130
Gospel: Luke 11:47-54
What occasion is there then for boasting? It is ruled out. On what principle, that of works? No, rather on the principle of faith. For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Does God belong to Jews alone? Does he not belong to Gentiles, too? Yes, also to Gentiles, for God is one and will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (Rom 3:27-30)
In today's reading form Romans, we see the passage that sparked the age old debate between Catholics and Protestants. I know that before my own conversion, I believed this passage from scripture, and my own interpretation of it was that the only thing that mattered was that I have faith in Christ. Then after my coming home to the Catholic Church, the logic began to set in; and I realized that while we are so limited and that we need the grace of God in our lives; and that it is important to have a strong faith, it is also just as important that we show that faith through our good works. In the letter of James it says; "Demonstrate you faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works ... Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? ... For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." (James 2:18, 21, 26)
Now I am not here to end the debate or answer all of our questions in regards to the teaching of faith and works. But I do want to offer a little bit of wisdom that I have learned in regards to the bible. Even though I may not have years and years of studying scripture, or any sort of degrees in theology; I do know one thing, that the bible is the word of God written for us to help guide us in this life, and the way I see it is that it is ALL important, each and every word. So to pick a single verse and say that we are only justified by faith or by works does not sit well with me. It seems to me that they are both important, and I do not think that the verse from Romans by Saint Paul and the verse by Saint James contradict each other, but I believe that they compliment each other.
I don't know about you but I am going to rely on the wisdom of the church and believe what the apostles, the early church fathers, the many doctors of the church believed, and what the Church still teaches today; we need both faith and works in our lives. It is by God grace and mercy that we have a way to heaven, by that grace He allows us to have faith and to do good works while on this earth.
Faith or works? Both, and let us not live this life by only believing, but by also going out and doing.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, increase our faith so that we might go out and do works for your glory. Lord, you alone are God and it is by you that we have life and the chance at eternal life. Lord, we all desire to be with you one day in heaven, and we pray for all those who do not know this yet. Lord, we pray for the conversion of all those in need of your love and mercy, and we pray for marriages all over the world. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.