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Monday, February 14, 2005

Not dungheap covered with snow

The analogy of the justified as dungheap covered with snow, originally given by Martin Luther, I think, can be challenged by Scriptural texts on judgment. Today's gospel reading (Matt 25:31-46, Feb 14, 2005) is no exception. When the king speaks severely to those on his left, he is clear to point out sins of omission:
"He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones, 
you did not do for me.'"
But this does not necessarily attack all who follow Luther's analogy as such. You'd have to know some Evangelicals to realize that they're mostly as conscious about what they do (or don't do) as Catholics are. They may proclaim justification by faith alone, but they're just as prone to practice the living faith, where works (acts) are involved, spoken of in the epistles: an active, living faith that works (or acts). They may verbalize this as mere fruits of one's justification, but Catholics have no trouble with this as we know that they are fruits of the Holy Spirit in us, as everything good comes from God. Regardless of that manner by which Evangelicals verbalize this, they share with Catholics a concern for serving and pleasing God through these works (or acts). The problem lies in Evangelicals who would sit on their faith in Christ as a conscious assent, by intellect and emotion, without acting in love to the least of our neighbors. This has been referred to as "easy believism" by some, which contradicts the "and lordship" camp among Evangelicals which sees the danger, as Catholics do, of faith without fruits, i.e., loving acts. Among Catholics, the problem lies in those who would sit on their simply being Catholic. Neither faith nor membership are ends in themselves. When St. Paul tells Timothy about the profitability of Scripture, for example, his attitude towards Scripture was a tool, a means, "That the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work" (2 Tim 3:15-16). We should all broaden our understanding of Christ as, not only the Truth to be believed, but the Way that needs to be walked. You can't just sit on your faith nor your membership because you can't walk while sitting down.

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