Friday, October 18, 2013

Faith and Works: Daily Mass Homily--Thursday, October 17th, 2013

            You Church historians will know that the book of Romans, especially Romans 2, caused quite the stir in the Protestant Reformation.  Since then a continuous argument between faith and works has ensued.  Do faith or works justify a person?  St. Benedict gives us a good answer—ora et labora—prayer and work.  It isn’t faith or works—it is faith and works.
            Some of our brothers and sisters in different denominations believe faith alone saves us.  I’ve entered into long games of Bible tennis with some of these people—they’ll quote Romans: “For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”  I’ll quote James: “Faith without works is dead.”  And on and on.
            I’ve been asked several times by non-Catholics, “If you were to die can you be 100% sure you’ll go to heaven?”  I always respond, “I hope so!”  So much ink has been spilled on this question which, in the end, is mostly speculative and largely irrelevant. 
Yet all Christians believe it is only through God’s grace through His son’s death and resurrection that we are saved at all.  And we say this grace works to give us faith and help us live lives according to it.
One good metaphor for how faith and works go to together is a sailboat.  Without wind, a sailboat cannot move over water.  This is like God’s grace—without it no movement can happen in our souls.  At the same time, the sails of a boat must be open to the wind in order for the wind to do its job.  Both work together.
I pray that your living out St. Benedict’s maxim—ora et labora—will be an inspiration to our community and Diocese, especially to all Christians, to live out our faith by doing good in the world.  And we’ll leave the rest up to God.

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