Faith without works is dead

The Second Reading for the Mass for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time is a statement that faith in Jesus is no good if works do not spring from it:

James 2:14-18: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?
Can that faith save him?
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear
and has no food for the day,
and one of you says to them,
‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well, ’
but you do not give them the necessities of the body,
what good is it?
So also faith of itself,
if it does not have works, is dead.

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.”

(Via USCCB.)

The idea is simple and obvious: If you have faith in Christ, where is the evidence of it? To merely say that “Jesus is Lord” and other such declarations of faith is meaningless unless there is proof of it. What distinguishes believers of Christ from non-believers, then? What outward sign of your faith is visible to those who are non-believers,or even believers? I do not mean garments or things like crosses about the neck. I mean, how does your faith change the world about you? How does your faith make a difference? How does your faith preach the Gospel, by your actions?How do you respond to Jesus’ call in the Gospel to preach to all peoples, even if “all peoples” is just your family, friends and co-workers?

“Good works” do not get you saved. No one can earn their way into Heaven by doing good things. Heaven is so unreachable by mere human means that Jesus had to die on the Cross to gain it for us. It is our faith in Him and the seed planted in our souls by that faith which grows into a desire to do something about the world that makes our salvation possible. Our belief in Him coupled with our working out of the Gospel message is what we are judged by.

“So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James says in his letter. I have heard “Faith, without works, is dead” many times in AA meetings as it is a quote from AA writings.

The good works that spring from faith is the work of grace in our souls. God calls us by His free granting of grace, and we respond.

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