THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for February 21st, 2014
Opt. Memorial of St. Peter Damian
Liturgical texts here
IF Martin Luther would have had his way, The Letter of James would have been axed from the canon of Scriptures. That’s because his doctrine sola fide, that we are “saved by faith alone,” was contradicted by St. James teaching:
Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
I am amazed that I still hear radio preachers promoting Luther’s false doctrine when Scripture itself is so clear that eternal life comes to those who persevere in “good works”; cf. Rom 2:7 that nothing counts except “faith working through love”; cf. Gal 5:6 that faith without love is “nothing”; cf. 1 Cor 13:2 that we are “created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” cf. Eph. 2:10 Jesus was also unambiguous when He said, “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” cf. Matt 19:16 Indeed, in His parable of the sheep and the goats, the ones rewarded eternal life were those who did good deeds: “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” cf. Matt 25:40
The light we are called to bring into the world is the the light of love.
Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. (Matt 5:16)
Jesus did not only preach love and forgiveness—He incarnated it, most sublimely upon the Cross. Thus, in today’s Gospel when Jesus says, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me,” the “cross” means service to our neighbour. It means to spill my own blood, the blood of my time, resources, my very self for the other. And this implies denying oneself. The fancy word for that is “mortification”, which comes from the Latin word mort, which means death. Some people want a comfortable religion, where the demands are no more than one hour on Sunday and a few coins in the collection basket. But that is more akin to a country club than Christianity.
Christ did not promise an easy life. Those who desire comforts have dialed the wrong number. Rather, he shows us the way to great things, the good, toward an authentic life. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Address to German Pilgrims, April 25th, 2005.
As I watch the violence, dysfunction, and division unfolding daily around our world, it says to me that what is needed in this hour is a profound and courageous witness from authentic Christians—men and women who have renounced themselves in order to give glory to God by a powerful Spirit-filled witness.
We have to stop being afraid of pain and have faith. We have to love and not be afraid to change how we live, for fear it will cause us pain. Christ said, “Blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the earth.” So if you decide that it’s time to change how you live, don’t be afraid. He will be right there with you, helping you. That’s all He’s waiting for, that Christians should become Christians. —Catherine de Hueck Doherty, from Dear Parents
Jesus says follow me. That is, our service to our neighbour, the good deeds we do, must be those that He taught and that the Apostles were commissioned to teach. Many today, including some “Catholic” organizations, have construed that reducing the population, handing out condoms, and sterilizing third world countries are a service to mankind. No, the service Jesus calls us to is to bring life, not death to our neighbour. Thus, the Church’s Magisterium plays an intrinsic role in the life of the Christian, precisely by imparting to the faithful the “truth” as transmitted through Sacred Tradition and the Scriptures.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commands… Light shines through the darkness for the upright… (Today’s Psalm)
Thus, there is an inseparable link between charity and truth. Where are the Christians today who are living witnesses of the entire Catholic Faith? Men and women who are humbly obedient and yet full of love? Witnesses who teach us by their lives? Saints! Where are the saints? My God, dear reader, can you not hear Jesus calling you and I to fill this gulf, this immense vacuum of sanctity?
…whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? (Today’s Gospel)
We must not be ashamed of the truth, which is at the service of our neighbour. We must not be ashamed of Truth, which has a Name: Jesus. And we must be willing to witness to that truth through how we live our lives, even if it costs us our very lives. But “the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” cf. Rom 8:18
Yes, it’s time for Christians to become Christians, and let the light of love shine into this present darkness with all the force of charity in truth. For the hour of the Church’s greatest witness is upon us.
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|1.||↑||cf. Rom 2:7|
|2.||↑||cf. Gal 5:6|
|3.||↑||cf. 1 Cor 13:2|
|4.||↑||cf. Eph. 2:10|
|5.||↑||cf. Matt 19:16|
|6.||↑||cf. Matt 25:40|
|7.||↑||cf. Rom 8:18|