Bestfriends: Faith and Work

13 September 2009 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 50, 4-9; Psalm 116; James 2, 14-18; Mark 8, 27-35


The letter of St. James tells us that faith and works authenticate each other. Good works prove a living faith; and faith validates good works. We cannot just pray for someone to get well; it is necessary that we also come and attend to their needs. I found a good illustration from the book, 1,500 Inspirational Quotes and Illustrations by M. Lunn:

I was hungry
and you formed a humanities club and you discussed my hunger. Thank you.
I was imprisoned
and you crept off quietly to your chapel in the cellar to pray for my release.
I was naked
and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.
I was sick
and you knelt and thanked God for your health.
I was homeless
and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God.
I was lonely
and you left me alone to pray for me.

You seem so holy; so close to God.

But I’m still very hungry
and lonely
and cold.

So where have your prayers gone?
What have they done?
What does it profit a man to page through his book of prayers
When the rest of the world is crying for help?

***

It is crucial for Jesus to ask His disciples who He is to them. There is an intellectual component to all our loving: we must know whom we love. Through prayer and reflection --- yes through our book of prayers ---- we get to have a deeper knowledge of Christ.

However, our deeds will show the depth, intensity and genuineness of that love. Thus, Jesus knows that unless His disciples would grasp a clearer understanding of who He is and what He is doing, they will not be able to understand the necessary suffering that He is to undergo.

And if they are to follow Him and take up His cross, that requires action: feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoners, keeping people warm, attending to the sick, etc. St. Benedict taught us, Ora et Labora, prayer and work.

St. Luis Alfredo Cruchaga SJ said that it is in our work that we are sanctified. If we are to assess the depth of our faith, then all we have to do is reflect on what we’ve done. Our works mirror the depth of our knowledge of God.

Faith is a verb: it moves, it grows, it develops. It has to be done.

2 comments:

Bradley J. Moore said...

"Faith is a verb" - That flips around my idea of faith! Wow! Thanks for this very practical, concise and easy-to-understand post. I just returned from a friend's funeral yesterday, and the priest said "His faith wasn't perfect, but he lived it every day" Isn't that profound? His faith was a verb.

Then I read this post from you. God is speaking!

Jessel Gerard said...

Hey Bradley! Thank you very much. God bless you and the people you love. Will keep you in my prayers.