“Faith & Works” by Brian Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

Twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Let’s say you have a friend who’s a self-described fly-fishing fanatic. This friend tells you they know everything there is to know about it. What kinds of fish to go for in which kinds of streams and weather, what type of equipment to use, what the latest tips and tricks from the pros are. They can even tie their own flies. It would be a little odd, if you said, “Hey that sounds great, you’ll have to take me with you next time you go!”, and they responded, “Oh, um, no I don’t actually go fly-fishing. I’ve never been actually.”

Usually the things that we know everything there is to know about, are things that we love to do! When I watch a YouTube video about boxing, it makes me want to go down into the basement, put on the gloves, and beat on the heavy bag. If I see a cooking show where they’ve got a skillet full of garlic shrimp and tortellini, it makes me want to get in the kitchen and try out the recipe (or at least it makes me want to eat it!). We aren’t usually content to stop at watching the video or reading the article – we only do that with things we find interesting or intriguing, but that we don’t have a real love or interest for.

In the Second Reading from this Sunday from the letter of James, he makes this point as it relates to our faith. The main point of the passage is that “faith without works is dead.” Our faith, it seems, is the one thing we get content with knowing a lot about, or praying a lot, but when it comes time to putting our faith into action, we treat it like it was just an intriguing article we read on how to survive on a desert island – we don’t make the connection to our everyday life.

When we see a need, we need to put our faith into action – whether it be supporting the poor, reaching out to a friend who’s having a hard time, making a lasagna for a neighbor family who just had a baby – it’s not enough just to pray for those things.

Don’t get me wrong, we can and should pray for all of those needs. And also, we’re not always in a position to directly help out with every single need that comes up. But putting our faith into action should be a regular part of how we live it out – and our hope should be that those we serve would experience God’s love through us.

On the flip side though, we need to grow in our life of prayer and our relationship with God too – if all we ever do is make sandwiches for the homeless, go to soup kitchens, and donate money to great causes, but we never pray or go to Mass and confession, if we never invite God into our decision making processes, we’re missing a big piece of the puzzle here too.

So, we need faith…AND works. Faith without works is dead, but faith with works is alive!

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