Faith without works is insufficient because both are needed
“He shall say to them also that shall be on His left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels, for I was hungry and you did not give Me to eat; I was thirsty and you did not give Me to drink. I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also shall answer Him, saying: ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to You?’ Then He shall answer them saying, ‘Amen: I say to you, as long as you omitted to do it to one of the least of these, neither did you do it to Me.’ And they shall go into everlasting punishment” (Mt 25:41-46).
For, “Not every one who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the Will of My Father who is in Heaven; he shall enter into the Kingdom” (Mt 7:21), because “What shall it profit . . . if a man says he has faith, but does not have works? Shall faith be able to save him? And if a brother or sister be naked and want daily food, and one of you says to them: ‘Go in peace, keep warm and be filled, yet does not give them those things that they need, what shall it profit?’ So faith also, if it does not have works attached to it, is dead in itself” (Jas 2:14-17).
Are we really loving our neighbor as ourselves, in our daily lives? Or are we continuing to incessantly elaborate all sorts of excuses, for why we should love ourselves more than our neighbor; be and remain more comfortable than our neighbor, especially in the latter’s hour of need? What can we do – without excuses, rationalizations and masks – that we have not yet done, or not done enough?
All of the above applies to every single human being, regardless of who they are: laity, religious, ecclesiastics, Catholics and non-Catholics alike. But in relation to Catholics, further issues arise. Specifically, it is not simply how much time we spend praying that counts in our Father’s eyes, including long times in personal prayer, devotions, attending or celebrating Mass daily, instead of just on Sundays; spending long hours in spiritual reading and meditation, or adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and so on. For although all of these activities are indeed laudable and should be done, they are insufficient in and of themselves when unaccompanied by concurrent works – that is when the Faith, that we claim to retain the fullness of deposit, is not put truly into action by ourselves but is simply afforded lip-service – because our prayer, in such cases, becomes nothing more than hypocrisy; mockery, an insult to Our Father. This particular factor applies once again to laity, religious and ecclesiastics.
So the question arises anew: what are we doing that we can do, but that we have not yet done, for whatever reason, regarding truly loving our neighbor as ourselves and not one iota less than ourselves? Our Father is going to test us in ways previously inconceivable, to determine who is truly His and who is not; who is His in fact and not just in theory. So for those of us who keep on falling short in this respect, how are we coming up short and, more importantly, in what specific ways are we going to rectify what we have done half-heartedly or failed to do?