Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

(Galatians 5:1-6; Luke 11:37-41)

Two words in the first reading today beg clarification. First, Paul tells u as well as the Galatians that Christ has set us free. He means that Christ has freed humans from the onus of the Law as a way to please God. The Law never worked very well in the first place like kerosene lamps for reading. But Paul does not mean that humans can do whatever they wish now that the Jewish Law has been abolished. Rather, he says, it is for freedom that Christ has freed them. Here freedom refers to the life of the Spirit residing within. Without the Spirit freed people are no better off than an illiterate person who comes to a library to learn. With the Holy Spirit they live exemplary lives that bring joy to neighbors and truly please God.

The second word that needs pondering is faith. Martin Luther stressed the idea that faith alone brings salvation. But did he mean an abstract faith which gives only verbal assent to the truth of Christ’s resurrection? That is not what Paul concludes as he extols “faith working through love.” Without love faith withers like flowers cut off from their stems. Love in a sense is the object of our faith. We are not speaking of human love here, but the divine kind which has rescued humans from the darkness of absolute zero for no absolutely benefit to itself.