Memory of Jesus crucified

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Memorial of Saint Peter Damian (†1072). Faithful to his monastic vocation, he loved the entire Church and spent his life reforming it. Memory of the monks in every part of the world.


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

James 2,14-24.26

How does it help, my brothers, when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith? Will that faith bring salvation? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, 'I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,' without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead. But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith. You believe in the one God -- that is creditable enough, but even the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear. Fool! Would you not like to know that faith without deeds is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by his deed, because he offered his son Isaac on the altar? So you can see that his faith was working together with his deeds; his faith became perfect by what he did. In this way the scripture was fulfilled: Abraham put his faith in God, and this was considered as making him upright; and he received the name 'friend of God'. You see now that it is by deeds, and not only by believing, that someone is justified. As a body without a spirit is dead, so is faith without deeds.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

It is faith that saves, Paul writes: faith frees man from the pride of demanding salvation, God's free gift. Faith, however, must enliven the whole life of the disciple, James adds. This is not a contrast: James makes clear what Paul says. Faith frees energies of good. That is why, without works, faith is dead. After all, Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." (Mt 7:21) James insists, as he has done so far, on a Christianity that, from faith, becomes action, behaviour, and choice of life. Today's temptation is to live a sentimental, individualistic faith that is not measured by life's choices. Through the example of the refusal to help a brother or sister in need, James lays bare the insensitivity and hardness of the heart of the believer who is not moved. Such behaviour is an obvious betrayal of the fundamental commandment of love. Yet, this is what happens when we are content with our feelings, perhaps lived with emotion, believing that we are alright thanks only to good words devoid of any concrete help for those who ask it. It is not enough to believe in the abstract, nor is it enough to carry out certain ritual actions. Faith necessarily leads to new behaviours, to new manifestations of love. Abraham is the model of the true believer: he listened with confidence to what God asked of him and put it into practice immediately and to the end. His faith, which began with submission to God's will, became perfect by doing so and he was justified. So is Rahab, who chose to stand on the side of God's people despite being a foreigner and prostitute. James concludes with a further image: as the dead body is a sign of the absence of the soul, so too the absence of works is a sign of the lack of a living faith.