Saint Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
James 2:14-24, 26;Psalm 112:1-6; Mark 8:34–9:1
Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:17)
Even in the early Church, the debate about faith and works was a heated one! But here, James is telling us that faith is not something just to be talked about; it’s to be lived! As followers of Christ, we demonstrate the extent of our faith all day long, consciously or unconsciously, by the way we live.
Our works don’t earn us salvation. However, we make our love of God visible through the things we do. Abraham demonstrated his faith when he trusted God and prepared to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Mother Teresa demonstrated her faith when, even though she didn’t feel God’s presence, she continued to serve the poor, encourage her sisters, and trust God’s providence. Neither of these friends of God was saved because of his or her actions, of course, but their actions did give us a glimpse into the faith that supported everything they did.
What James is pointing to here is the “wheel of holiness.” God gives us the gift of faith. With that faith, we seek his presence in prayer and are moved deeply when he touches our hearts. Changed by what we have experienced, we find ourselves becoming more generous and selfless. This self-giving in turn nourishes our love for God and our desire to be with him, so we return to him in prayer. And so it continues. We form habits of holiness; we become more disposed toward God; it becomes more natural for us to demonstrate our faith in our everyday situations.
No matter where you are in this circle, let God take you farther! Do you have faith? Great! Act on it. Find someone today who needs you, and help him or her out. Are you busy working for God’s kingdom? Keep it up, but make sure you are cultivating your spiritual life as well. Righteousness isn’t about proving yourself by your deeds; it’s about letting your faith show itself. It’s about embracing all that God has done for you and wanting more. It’s not talking about faith but showing it in the way you live!
“Thank you, Father, for the gift of faith! Draw me close to you so that my faith makes itself known in every choice I make and every word I speak. I don’t want just to sound like a believer; I want to be one!”