February 21, 2014
(St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church)
St. James said, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
if someone says he has faith but does not have works?
Can that faith save him?” Jas 2:14-24, 26
Heavy quote brothers and sisters!
It’s been a bone of contention in Jesus’ Church since the 1500’s when Martin Luther couldn’t stand the mess that Church was in, so badly, that he upped and left! It was called the Reformation and it spawned the outcropping of host of new “churches,” all designing their own belief systems, with Jesus mixed in there somewhere. All coming from a faith that was already 1500 or more years old.
Some of those who protested (and probably rightly so) against a system in which the mercy of God was bought and paid for by money or work (indulgences), proposed that all that was needed to “get to heaven” was belief (faith) in Jesus (Sola fide). While the extremists in that belief system felt that they could then go on living sinful lives – on purpose, because they were “saved,” saved once and forever, with never a possibility of being “lost” again. (And please note, I said extremists, some of whom are still in existence today.)
The other camp – going all the way back to this Letter of James in the early 60s’s, reiterated that our faith can only be “true faith” if it is substantiated by its works. It didn’t mean you had to work your way to heaven. What it meant was that, if you truly believed in Jesus, your works would be an outpouring of that love, of that belief, of that FAITH in Jesus, based on all that He taught. It meant that keeping that Faith and not falling away was the work of a lifetime. And that work was strengthened by Jesus in our prayer and community life. James went on to give Old and New Testament examples of that kind of faith; from Abraham to Rahab to people in his own time, helping the poor.
Then Jesus himself, in today’s Gospel says, ““Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Mk 8:34-9:1 That’s some pretty good work, brothers and sisters! For you see, whenever we deny ourselves, whenever we take up that cross without complaint and follow after Jesus – it is work!
And Jesus continued, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it.” (ibid) So “salvation” means ‘losing one’s life.’ In other words, not living purely for oneself, but giving your life away for others – and that’s work too! Jesus died for our salvation, but He never said, now you can relax. What he did say was “Come. Follow me!” And everything that Jesus stood for was community based. He was THE example of proven Faith in God, His Father, and God’s Children, all of us.
I, and I’m sure Jesus, would love nothing more than to see our separated brothers and sisters finally get over a silly 500-year old “protest” and become again, His ONE Church!
If only they knew that we (Catholics) do love them as much as He does!
The Peace and Love of Christ be with you today, beloved!
. . . .
For more info, here’s a link to:
ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION
by the Lutheran World Federation
and the Catholic Church
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