The Gospel from today’s Mass (Matthew 7, 21-27) got me thinking again about the false teaching that says that we are justified by faith alone. Specifically, I’m thinking of the passage “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Those that call upon the Lord obviously have faith and, by the “faith alone” doctrine, should be saved. But Jesus says that this is not enough, saying that such believers must also do the will of the Father. To me, this implies faith and action, not just faith alone. The same message also come through loud and clear later in this same Gospel, when Jesus says “And everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like the wise man who built his house on solid rock. ... And everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a fool who builds his house on sand.” Apparently it is foolish to simply believe and not to also act. This idea if further supported by quotes from Jesus in Luke, Chapter 6, verses 46-49.
I’ve read that the faith alone doctrine originated with Martin Luther. I’ve read that Luther actually added his own idea (on justification) to Scripture by adding the word “alone” after the word “faith” in various Scripture passages. So the inspired word of God was changed in this way. He apparently thought that the Catholic Church made salvation too difficult for people and thought that justification should just be accomplished by simply believing and not by acting on this belief. Many people then followed Luther right out of the Catholic Church because it made things easier for them. How sad! My thought is this: Should not something as important as salvation require more than just believing? Should we not prove our faith by proper behavior? Should we not be free from sin to achieve salvation? Should we not also be purged of our offenses against God before we can enter paradise where we see God face-to-face? Makes perfect sense to me.
My prayer for today: Lord, please strengthen our faith so that we live our lives not just by simple belief but also by acting on this belief, by avoiding sin, by asking your forgiveness from the sins that, in our weakness, we do commit and thus by building our faith lives on solid rock rather than shifting sands. Amen.