Luke 11:15-26 Faith That Works
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When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Others to test him asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts…
One of the greatest truths about Jesus that people would love to ignore is that He was a Jew. He was not a modernist or feminist or environmentalist. He was not a socialist or communist or fascist. He was not a Buddhist or a Muslim. He was not even a Democrat or a Republican. He was a Jew. And since His resurrection, people have tried to label Him, re-define Him, and even “nail” Him down to their own selfish and biased position. But the fact of the matter is clear: Jesus was a Jew.
Christians are fulfilled Jews. Everything the Jews accept, we believe…and much more. We consider Jews to be our elders...our eldest brothers and sisters.
We agree that there are two great commandments: Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. If you accept these two commandments, then there is nothing that is stopping you from becoming a Jew or even a Christian. Of course Christ, not the devil, is in the details.
He knew their thoughts. God knows me. He knows me well. He knows my faults and failures; but more importantly, he knows my heart and mind. He knows my heart better than anyone could ever know it, including myself. And since He knows my thoughts and my heart He can easily see my genuine or not-so-genuine faith. But my neighbor cannot read my heart or penetrate my thoughts. He cannot see my “faith” unless I demonstrate it to him.
How can a Christian show their love for God to their neighbor? How can my neighbor “see” my faith? Simple: Faith works.
Faith alone or Faith and works. Just like some people have tried to pit brother against brother, so others have tried to pit Christian against Christian, or Saint Paul against St. James. For centuries now, there have been a lot of misunderstandings among Christians regarding the role of faith and works. There shouldn’t be. What St. Paul wrote about faith does not contradict at all with what St. James wrote about faith and works. It is easily explained by looking at the context.
Professor Peter Kreeft writes, “St. Paul’s context is the relationship between the believer and God, while St. James context is the relationship between the believer and his neighbor.” In order to be justified by God, faith is all that God needs to “see”. But in order to justify our faith before men, our work through love is what they need to “see”.
“God sees your faith; your neighbor sees and is touched by your works. Faith justifies us before God; works justify us before men…A further explanation is that James means by “faith” only intellectual belief (cf. James 2:19). But Paul means by “faith” the whole Christian life.
In more technical terms, Paul is contrasting faith with law as a way to be justified, while James is contrasting a faith without works with a faith that works as a way to be sanctified. Paul is asking how to be saved; James is asking how to be holy. Paul is asking how to get to heaven; James is asking how to live on earth.”
Let’s show the world our faith in God by the way we live on earth. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Made partakers in your Sacrament of charity, we humbly implore your mercy, Lord, that we may be conformed to Christ on earth and merit to be coheirs of his glory in heaven. Who lives and reigns forever and ever.