Today’s first reading from St. James is a treatise on faith and works. St. James says “faith without works is dead.” More on that in a moment. In today’s Gospel reading from Mark, Jesus tells us that we must deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow him. He says those words that should haunt us in our materialistic society…”What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”
Many people have the mistaken notion that Catholics believe that we can work our way into heaven. That if I just do enough good stuff, God will let me in. THIS IS WRONG! The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in paragraph 161, “Believing in Jesus Christ, and in the One who sent Him for our salvation, is necessary for obtaining that salvation.” Translation – faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. So what about good works? Most Protestants profess “sola fide,” salvation through faith alone. But St. James would beg to differ.
“See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Jesus spoke of the necessity of doing good works again and again. But remember, works alone will not get one into heaven. The Catholic Church has never said anything of the sort. No, the Church teaches that we are saved by grace, through faith, working in love. See, it’s not either/or…it’s both/and.
Father, we thank you for the gift of our faith. Help us to show that faith daily through acts of charity and humility, which we can only do through Your grace. Amen.