Wednesday, February 19, 2014

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.”

“The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Scripture Text: (JAS 1:19-27)
Know this, my dear brothers and sisters:
everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger
for anger does not accomplish
the righteousness of God.
Therefore, put away all filth and evil excess
and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer,
he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror.
He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets
what he looked like.
But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres,
and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts;
such a one shall be blessed in what he does.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue
but deceives his heart, his religion is vain.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:
to care for orphans and widows in their affliction
and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

One problem many Christians today still have is that of confusing justification with salvation. If we keep the two events apart, we see that God who justified us by faith alone does not save us by faith alone. The justified person must bear fruit of good works, fruit befitting repentance or risk damnation on judgment day (see Matthew 7:16-23; John 15:1-2)

What does the Bible as a whole say on the issue of faith and good works determining a person's salvation? The entire Bible, from the Old Testament to John the Baptist, from the Gospels to Paul's letters, and from Hebrews to Revelation all are in support of St James' emphasis on the necessity of faith and good works for salvation. The preview of the Last Judgment given to us in Matthew 25 illustrates this theme most effectively:

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. ... Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:34-36, 40)

Today in the first reading at Mass, St. James reminds us that faith without works is indeed dead.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." (Mt 7:21-23‎)

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