Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
(Galatians 3:7-14; Luke 11:15-26)
Pelagius was a fifth century monk who thought like many moderns. According to his critics (few of his works remain), he taught that humans do not need God to be good. Rather, he evidently claimed that human nature has the wherewithal to become saintly. These ideas were condemned by the Church, and the passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians that we read today indicates why.
For Paul the experience of trying to fulfill the 613 precepts of the Jewish Law inevitably ends in failure. It is like trying to cross the ocean with an oxcart. The vehicle is simply not up to the task. But God in His mercy has sent His son Jesus Christ to provide a viable alternative. Acknowledging him as Lord and seeing his death on the cross as the means of salvation will provide one the grace to live a holy life.
“Is the act of believing then a human work?” we may want to ask. In other words, do we cooperate with God’s grace? These are highly nuanced and hotly debated questions. Certainly, the act of faith engages the human will. But it hardly takes an effort to believe when God’s graciousness is perceived in contrast to human folly.