Our church begins the "Year of Faith" on Thursday. How appropriate that we are reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians as this year commences. This letter could be called the Magna Carta of faith and grace. Throughout the letter Paul makes his case that we are saved by faith, not works and "the one who through faith is righteous shall live." A Gospel of salvation by works is the "different" or "other" Gospel that he vehemently mitigates against.
The Gospel presents us with the story of the Good Samaritan. The fathers of Vatican II used this story as the symbol of the church. As the body of Christ in the world today, we are to abound in good works, compassion and service to the needy.
The question isn’t whether or not we are saved by faith (we are), the question, as we commence with the year of faith, is "what is faith?" Certainly faith means that we believe in Jesus as our savior. Faith is an inner assent and confidence that Jesus loved us and died for us. But a key ingredient in the virtue of faith is action and involvement. Service, love, and getting involved with people "makes effective" our faith as Paul writes in 5:6. James tells us that faith without works is dead. Action vivifies and completes faith! Confident assent that shows itself in action and love is the faith that will move mountains, open doors and comfort us with blessed assurance.
May this year of faith move us to believe and love like never before.
Fr. Cedric Pisegna, C.P. is a missionary preacher, author of 16 books and creator of television and radio programs airing in many cities. You can learn more about his ministry at: http://www.frcedric.org/