Dear Church Family,
A confusing word we hear in our theology is the word, “justification” which means that God gives us the totally free gift of faith, salvation and He saves us. At the same time while feeling His gift upon us, we are called to do good work. So we hear very challenging passages in the book of James today when he says, “Be doers of the Word of God and not just hearers. 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.”
There has been a difference in thinking on the meaning of the words for centuries starting with Martin Luther down to this present day, but with experiential spirit and dialogue, the Lutheran’s and Catholic’s agreed back in 1999 on what justification means. Besides it being a great gift that we have no right to, God totally loves us, we also have to perform actions. I am going to quote their statements, “Together we confess. By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our heart while equipping and calling us to good works.”
We cannot say ourselves, but when we think of any discussions about this faith or work we know that we have to do good deeds. It is just like a pair of scissors: which blade is the most important, both are critical, both are necessary. I have a good pair of scissors that I try to always keep in my room and they don’t go anywhere else. I use them and I don’t know which blade is the most important so it is with faith and good works. One author expressed this when he said, “If faith was not vital we would have to ask, “Why did Jesus die for our sins?” If works were not crucial, we would have to ask, “Why did Jesus tell us to go out and evangelize, care for the poor, visit the sick, and feed the hungry?” We know we have to be doers of the Word and don’t just talk about it.
Church Family stand in awe of how God loves us so much as we hear in the ancient Words of the book of Deuteronomy, “For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him? Or what great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law which I am setting before you today?” We stand in awe of God giving us the gift of grace and being aware of this we recognize the many gifts and talents we have and we are compelled to bless others in return. Again, I don’t know which blade on the scissors is most important, they are equally important. So enjoy the justification and salvation you have in Jesus. Alleluia!
Love, Fr. Bob