FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER
Sister Rosemarie Goins,CSSF Director
Today we have one of the Letters of the New Testament that caused a great deal of controversy in the Protestant Reformation that it was left out of the King James’ version of the Bible – a Protestant version. That is the Letter of James 2: 14-18. The argument was about faith itself. Some said that faith alone was necessary for salvation, while others said that faith and good works are necessary. St. James, the Apostle, was very strong about the partnership of faith and good works. First of all, simply choosing to believe in Jesus, the Christ (Savior/Messiah) is a good work, as we see in the story of the good thief who died with Jesus on a cross. This thief after defending Jesus says, “Remember me when you enter upon your reign.” Jesus responds, “I assure you: this day you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23: 40-43
Unfortunately, it is kind of a sad argument, since all true Christians act upon their faith. Of course, we know that we have done nothing to merit our faith, our salvation. It is a free gift that Jesus offers us and we have but to accept it. It stands to reason that we will live out this faith with good works.
So, next time you want to argue with someone, make sure you have all the facts. You may find you are arguing on the same side. Respect for another’s position and clarification may throw more enlightenment on your own position. Discourse and argument should never divide us, but only enrich our positions. We agree to disagree and respect each other’s conscience. As my mother would say, “If you know what you believe in and who you are, no other religion or race is a threat to you; they can only enrich you.” Another great controversy divided the Christian Church into the Western and Eastern Churches long before the Reformation; future generations would discover that it was due to bad translations and misunderstandings. However, that story is for another time.
In Mark 8: 27-35 we hear Jesus testing the faith of his disciples. “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples have all kinds of answers. Jesus persists, “But who do you say that I am?” Of course, impetuous Peter answers, “You are the Christ!” This was a shear pronouncement of faith. Jesus than teaches what one must do, if they believe that he is the Messiah, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me…”
St. Robert Bellarmine, Italian Jesuit, Cardinal and Doctor of the Church, was prominent in the Counter-Reformation. He saw the need for clarification on the doctrines of the Catholic Church and composed a catechism that became very useful in guiding people in a confusing time. He was very clear about the faith being a belief in the person of Jesus Christ, not only in a set of doctrines. He lived very frugally and even tore the wall hangings from his apartment in the Vatican to clothe the poor saying, “The walls do not need protection from the cold.” He also felt that the pope should not be directly involved in secular power. This did not gain him much favor with the reigning pope. FranciscanMedia.com
It was very difficult for the Christian faith to take root in Korea, as the country rejected anything foreign.
In the 19th century the faith did make its way into Korea. St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon was the first Korean priest canonized. Paul Chong Ha-sang, companions and many other lay people were martyred also. The church survived for many years as a lay church, having no access to the sacraments. This is a great credit to the Christians in this country, whose faith was so strong. FranciscanMedia.com
St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, ministered mainly to the Jewish community. That is why the first chapter of his Gospel provides the Genealogy of Jesus. This was a very important point in proving that Jesus is the Messiah to the Jewish people. He also tells of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the City of David. The birthplace of the Messiah was also an important point.
May God bless you with joy and peace,
Sister Rosemarie Goins, Director