For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.2 Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. 4 You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.-Galatians 5:1-6 NRSV
Faith And The Galatians
In today’s daily Mass reading we near the end of St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The church in Galatia had been infiltrated by Judaizers. This group was telling the people that for one to be a Christian, they first had to submit to the law of Moses. Essentially they were nullifying the new covenant that Christ established by saying that one also had to follow all the commands of the old.
Throughout this letter Paul used some very harsh language, His anger and concern is clearly visible in this letter. He was concerned that people, under the guise of doing something good, would leave Christ and try to be saved by the works of the law.
Faith Is Needed
In verse four of today’s passage Paul says that those who try to do so are cut off from grace. The point is that we cannot attain justification on our own. We can try to do all the right things, but if we do not have faith then where does that leave us?
Lost and apart from grace.
Jesus illustrates this in today’s Gospel reading. A Pharisee was asking Jesus why he did not do the ceremonial washing before eating. Jesus responds by stating, “Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,
inside you are filled with plunder and evil” (See Luke 11:37-41). We can follow all the rules and and everything will look good on the outside, but within our hearts are not changed.
Likewise we may say that we have faith, but our lives do not reflect it. If that is the case have we really been changed by Christ or are we putting on a show? It is my prayer that each of us, myself included, take some time today to examine our lives and our faith. Do our lives reflect the faith that we profess at Mass? Or are we just going through the motions, and like the Pharisees in today’s Gospel, are we being two faced?
St. Paul says it best at the end of today’s first reading. The only thing that counts is faith working through love. That is the Christian way. It has been the way since the church has been established. May we go through today and everyday with faith that works through love. This faith will change the world.
God bless you.
Our Lord wills that you cling to Him alone! If your faith were greater how much more peaceful you would be even when great trials surround and oppress you.-St. Paula Frassinetti
The faith given to me in baptism suggests to me surely: by yourself you will do nothing, but if you have God as the center of all your action, then you will reach the goal.-Blessed Piere Giorgio
It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards a one’s progress, nor the nature of the task, but by the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken.-St. Francis Xavier