Faith and Good Works

Matthew 25:31-46

Lv 19:1-2.11-18 / Ps 19

Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.
(Matthew 25:40)

Take care that you are not deceived:

It’s not enough that we believe. . .

The measure that we will receive

From God depends on what we give.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Reflection

“Born again” Christians say good works are not necessary for one’s salvation. According to them, by faith alone, we are already saved. They cite St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, 3:26: “God justifies everyone who believes in Jesus.” And in Rom.4:6: “God credits his righteousness apart from good works.” So we don’t have to struggle because we are already saved by faith alone. Trust in the Lord, because He has already completed the work of our salvation. But if this is the case, why did St. Paul write to the Corinthians, “…each one of us will get what he deserves for the things he did, both good or evil.” (2Cor.5:10). In fact, if this apostle to the Gentiles really believed that faith in God was sufficient for our passage to heaven, why did he have to sacrifice so much to the point of torture and near-death several times, to “please his Savior”? St. James wrote that faith without good works is useless. (James 2:20). “A body dies when it is separated from the spirit, and in the same way faith is dead if it is separated from good works.” (James 2:26) The kind of faith that “born-again” Christians are espousing borders on presumption. Satan has deceived them into believing that God will erase all our sins because His Son had already paid for them on the cross. The evil one lulls them into complacency and unrepentance, (“no need for confession”). Our Lord never said faith in Him alone guarantees our salvation. He warned us that in the final judgment, “the Son of Man . . . will reward everyone according to His conduct.” (Mt. 16:27). And then He will separate men from one another, as the shepherd separates sheep from goats, and those who are thrown into eternal fire will ask: “Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to Your help?” Then our Lord will answer, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life (Mt. 25:44-46).

May all Your commands and decrees live in our hearts to guide us and keep us from sin, to spread goodwill to all men, to help us become Your worthy stewards. Amen.

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