Saint James challenges us this Sunday to examine our relationship with God, to have a faith that is alive and not dead (James 2:14-18). Saint James was writing to Catholic Christians who went to Mass every Sunday and yet he still warns them against having a dead faith – telling them and us directly that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit calls us to not only believe in Him, but to follow Him and to love Him and our neighbor, in our words and deeds, just as Jesus Christ commanded us.
This teaching on faith is also depicted in this Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 8:27-35), as Saint Peter professes his faith in Jesus, calling Him the Christ – yet Peter’s faith falters when he hears Jesus explain that His mission as the Savior includes being rejected, suffering, dying and rising. Jesus then disciplines Peter for thinking as human beings do! Peter’s faith was alive, but it needed to increase so that he could follow Jesus Christ through His miracles and preaching, and to the Cross and the Resurrection. Jesus is teaching Peter and us to live our faith in words and deeds, to take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23), for faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:17). Our faith in Jesus Christ should affect the way we live as God’s children. When we express our faith by our works (Matthew 25:31-46), we grow in wisdom, peace, patience, courage, and true Christian joy – fruits of a faith that is alive and growing (Galatians 5:22-23).
We live our faith and keep it alive and growing by: praying; reading Holy Scripture; keeping God’s Commandments (John 14:15-24); loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40); going to God in the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and Confession, which we can go to as often as needed (for healing, forgiveness, conversion); participating in Jesus’ Mass with our parish family, giving glory to God by worshipping, praising, thanking and loving Him through our attentiveness to the prayers, Scriptures, gestures, hymns; examining our conscience each day, praying and asking Our Lord to help us live the gift of Faith.
Faith is a gift from God. As we strive to be in communion with God each day, living the virtues of faith, hope and love, may we continue by God’s grace to nourish the gift of faith – being faithful, hopeful and loving instruments for Him, by word and deed, all for the greater glory of God. May we live our Faith as witnesses to the Gospel: praying for healing, forgiveness, conversion and justice in the midst of the scandal and crisis in the Body of Christ, the Church; praying for all people to respect God’s gift of life, participating in the 40 Days for Life campaign, September 26 to November 4 – our Knights of Columbus have reserved October 21 as a day for our parish family to pray during the campaign (see our parish bulletin, website and Facebook page for details; also see VigilforLife.org and 40DaysforLife.com); and praying for all people to believe in, follow and love Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead, the Only Savior of the world.
With peace and prayers in Christ,