Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
(Galatians 1:6-12; Luke 10:25-37)
Liberation theologians of the last century called attention to the need of what they called “orthopraxis.” This long word comes from two Greek words meaning right practice. The liberationists often said that orthopraxis was more important to salvation than orthodoxy or correct belief. That statement had some shock value, but as today’s readings indicate, the two – orthopraxis and orthodoxy – correspond like a hand in a glove.
In the first reading Paul expresses dismay with the Galatians for accepting a false doctrine. By having themselves circumcised, they were rejecting the orthodox position that salvation comes through faith in Christ. In the gospel Jesus shows howt faith must be applied to the workaday world. Faith in him means to practice the active love he taught by word and deed. The Samaritan proves worthy of salvation because he sacrificed his time, effort, and money for the man who was waylaid by robbers.
Paul will write later in the same Letter to the Galatians, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). The two – faith and a working love – might be seen as two halves of a paper dollar. Faith without works cannot purchase us anything because it lacks grounding in life. On the other hand, love without faith is likewise worthless for salvation because it lacks abiding commitment. Together faith and love enable us to know Christ which is the essence of eternal life.