Monday of the First Week of Lent

The faith and the works

Then the king will say … “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me”. Then the righteous will answer him and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?” And the king will say to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me”. Mt 25,34-40

Today, the Gospel of Matthew states that by the end of our days, we will be judged on the works of charity. In the Letter to the Romans, Paul, however, writes: “We  consider that a  person is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom 3,28). These two statements would seem to represent two different standards of judgment, but James, in his Letter, makes it clear by stating that between charity and faith there is no difference: “So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead”. (Jas 2,17). Subsequently James, almost by challenging words, adds: “Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works” (Jas 2,18). I confess that I never understand the dualism between faith and works which, even today, distinguishes the catholics from the protestant churches. St. Paul, in fact, does not say that a man is justified separately from the works of charity, but he says that a man is justified independently from those of the law. The difference is a great one. The law, including that received  by Moses on the Mount Sinai, is linked to a people, a nation and a time, while the works of charity have an eternal and universal value. But let’s us entrust this matter to the theologians and to address it, instead, looking towards to the family, which is the reality in which we are called to grow together. Today the family goes through a crisis due to several reasons, some of which are outside of this subject, but there are two for which the today’s gospel offers the solution. A first reason for the crisis is the lack of openness versus the neighbour. The family, as often we like to remember, works like a fireplace: if it does not have an opening to the outside, the flame is extinguished and it makes only smoke, as the love of a couple which closes on itself and it does not open to those in need: of bread or of friendship. A second reason is the lack of a project to develop together, because the love is creative by nature. This is the secret of the marriages which are able of enrichment and renewal over the years and the today’s gospel offers to us a wide vision of forms of love which can feed the life, the joy of living and the union between the husband and the wife.

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