The Second reading on Sunday, the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time,was taken from the Letter of St James. It vividly presents the challenge to join ourselves to the works of love.
Take the case, my brothers, of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty’, without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.
This is the way to talk to people of that kind: ‘You say you have faith and I have good deeds; I will prove to you that I have faith by showing you my good deeds – now you prove to me that you have faith without any good deeds to show.’
If we live in Western society where the argument splutters on whether God exists or not, Christians may easily consider faith is about whether we believe that God exists. Sure, that is important! But it is not sufficient – as St James points out, the devil believes that too! But we are called to believe in God, and a shorthand for that belief in is ‘love’.
We are called to love God, neighbour and self. To fail to do either compromises the others. To be a person of faith is to be a person of love. A person who does not love here or does not love there is not a person of love.
They may have been a person of love, in which case they need remedial care. They may be in the process of becoming a person of love, in which case this or that failure may prove a stepping stone to growth, if it is occasion for re-assessing progress and looking, asking, for help.
But love is what love does.
- Where are you love-less?
- Bring your weaknesses and your strengths to God in prayer, and pray for deeper faith, and deeper love.