Grace to you!
We continue our reflection based on Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans. It is a letter written by the Apostle to address and deepen a teaching he started in his Letter to the Galatians, concerned with confirming the faith of Christians as not based on the works of the Law and circumcision, but on faith in Jesus Christ.
We learn from a study of contexts of biblical writings, that there was a growing concern in the Church in Rome about how to reconcile the stipulations of the Law, such as requiring circumcision, and the gentile who had accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The gentiles didn’t live in a culture that promoted or supported circumcision. St. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, addresses these concerns in profound ways.
In today’s reference, St. Paul presents to us the example of Abraham, reminding us that Abraham was not justified by the value of his works, but by his faith in believing God’s word. “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Rom 4:3).
St. Paul also reminds us that, as in the case of Abraham, because his works did not justify him, he had no reason to boast before God (Rom 3:2). When we truly realize and appreciate the favors of God in our lives as believers, and see those who may be wiser, smarter than we are and who equally work hard, but have no faith in God, it should make us more humbled at the grace we have received.
The Church teaches us that when we speak of merit regarding faith and justification, “there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC, # 2007).
I can suggest we only speak of our merit in a metaphoric sense, because as the Church teaches, “The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit” (CCC, # 2008).
If this is the case, the gift of faith we have received should make us humble. As St. Paul himself says, our only boast will be our weaknesses (2 Cor 11:30).
I pray God to give us the grace of humble gratitude to the merits of His life in us. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Friday Week 28 Ordinary Time A: Rom 4:1-8; Lk 12:1-7]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.