28th Tuesday in Ordinary Time
Galatians 5: 1 – 6; Ps 119; Luke 11: 37 – 40
“For in Christ Jesus…what counts is only faith working through love.”
The very thing Paul preaches to the Galatians is the very thing he practices. He walks the talk! Paul had a profound, personal concern for these people, a community he founded in the interior of Asia Minor on one of his missionary journeys.
The people had been visited by Judaeo-Christians from Jerusalem who urged them to adopt the practices of the Mosaic Law. So the community was disturbed and confused and Paul had a very real fear that they would lose their way.
This event as disturbing as it was, we are told, led Paul to reflect more on the meaning of the Christian Gospel. So all was not lost as Scripture teaches, “God orders all things to our benefit.” The occasion provided Paul a graced opportunity to encourage the community he had fathered in faith and love and to clarify the meaning of Christian life for them.
He calls them and us to realize that what matters most is faith working through love. For a Galatian, for Christians, for us faith and love go together, otherwise it is not the way of truth.
Faith without love is a head trip – separated from the reality of life – intellectual concepts, wordy dogmas that do not take seriously the great commandments: Love God, love yourself and love your neighbor as yourself.
In all this the Lord through St. Paul reminds us that external observances of whatever kind can appear as great acts of faith. Unless undergirded by love, grateful, sacrificial love – these observances count as nothing before God. Paul’s words concerning the necessity of “faith working through love” are very clear and equally strong: “Christ will be of no benefit to you!”
How well we love is how well we believe.