Homily for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Faith and Works

posted Sep 18, 2018, 11:49 AM by Mary Tocimak

Homily for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Faith and Works

 

 

            Today I want to try and clarify a long standing dispute between Catholics and some Protestant denominations. The dispute is about salvation by faith or salvation by faith and works. The dispute came about when Martin Luther was struggling with his own faith journey. Luther grew up believing that he had to earn his way into heaven and became very scrupulous.  He often went to confession several times a week and spent most of his early life in fear of going to hell because of the slightest little sin. Once he realized that he was saved by faith alone, he began the great reformation against the Catholic Church. However, we as Catholics believe that we are saved by faith and works.

            Let me start with a definition of faith.  Faith is a gift from God that we receive when we are baptized.  We, or our parents and godparents, accepted this gift on our behalf.  With this gift comes another gift, the gift of free will.  It is in this gift of free will that we have the ability to either love God or to reject him in our lives.  If we accept this gift of faith, we will be granted entry into the kingdom of heaven, we are also called to put this gift into practice by our works.  If we reject this gift, and turn our back on God in our lives, we will be condemned on judgment day.

            Now what are works?  They are our actions that show that we truly love God and love our neighbor.  Our works should be done for two purposes.  The first is that we perform these works in thanksgiving to God and want to show our gratitude to him.  And second, we do these works as an example to others so that they too want to accept this gift of faith themselves, or for them to renew this gift and turn their lives around.  We do not do these works as a way of gaining entrance into heaven.  Christ already did that for us and we do not earn our way into heaven by our works.

            In St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he clearly states that faith without love is like a bell that cannot make any noise.  Faith opens the door to the kingdom of heaven, but love, love of God and love of our neighbor, allows us to take up residence in the kingdom of Heaven. Yet, it is our intention in performing these works that is just as important.  We need to perform these works out of gratitude to God and to lead others to God, and not for our own selfish desires. This week, put your faith into practice and thank God for the gift of faith that you have received and share that gift with others.  In this way, you too will be able to take up residence in the kingdom of heaven once your time here on earth has been completed. 

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