Today’s reading: Matthew 19:16-30
Today we see Jesus asked directly, “What GOOD DEED must I DO, to have eternal life?”
Jesus does NOT answer, “Don’t worry, you are saved by faith alone.” Jesus says you must keep the commandments and when you have done that you must do more. Thus, Jesus identifies salvation as a process. A process of perfecting yourself over the course of your life.
Jesus goes onto say that it is very difficult to do. In fact, it is impossible, the same as fitting a camel through the eye of a needle. The Apostles, having been with Jesus for some time now, recognize the seeming futility of trying to do this and ask, “Who then can be saved?
Jesus’ answer, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Thus, salvation is impossible without God. The desire, the ability, the grace to do a good work, and the physical accomplishment of the good work ALL COME from God in the first place. In fact, the work is only good if and when it is done for and through God. As a Catholic, I would not suggest that we can be saved by our works. However, we can say that once we are in union with God are works become meritorious and we can and must do good works.
How then can we fit Faith and Works together?
Salvation is a free and complete gift from God. There is nothing you can do can merit salvation. However, salvation is a gift that is continually given. It must be continually accepted and received. The free choice to live a good and holy life according to the teachings of the Gospel is how we accept that gift.
Tomorrow: Matthew 20:1-16