Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 15:1-12.17-18; Matthew 7:15-20)
In his Letter to the Romans St. Paul looks to the passage of Genesis that we read today for an example of righteousness. He comments, “…it was through the righteousness that comes from faith” that Abraham received the blessings that God promises. Martin Luther eventually strips faith of any element of service as he argues that a human being needs only a firm declaration of belief to be saved. Critics of the Reformation point out that Paul obviously has a more wholesome concept of faith as he writes to the Galatians that what counts is “faith working through love.”
We might appreciate Luther more if we step back and see the pitfalls of those who stress works of charity over the necessity of faith. Too soon they lose the perspective that salvation is a gift from God and see it more as an earned reward if not an entitlement of birth. Abraham keeps a healthy balance which we will see as his story unfolds in the coming days. He gives due honor to God, his sovereign Lord, but he fulfills whatever he deems God expects of him, at least at his best moments.
Our faith turns around Jesus, God’s son, who gives his life on the cross so that we might receive his Holy Spirit. This Spirit enables us to fulfill Jesus’ commands which slackers would avoid. It moves us from the television and the dining table to visit the sick and encourage the depressed.