Sunday, October 27, 2013

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

There has always been controversy between Protestants and Roman Catholics over the question of "justification."

Justification is a divine act where God declares the sinner to be innocent of his sins.  It is a legal action in that God declares the sinner righteous, as though he has satisfied the law of God. On that, much all agree. But how does one receive justification?

For the Protestants it was by faith alone: "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law" (Romans 3:28). It did not depend upon works, but solely upon faith.

For Catholics, it depends upon faith and works: "You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone" (James 2:24). James asks the question himself in 2:14: "What use is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?"

***

Jesus tells a parable about a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee believes he is justified (has saved himself) because he has followed the law to the letter; he has done good works. In the process he judges another as unfit; the tax collector simply admits he is a sinner, not justifying himself, but believing he must rely on God’s mercy – that is his only justification (salvation).

Who seems more spiritually in touch with God’s grace, mercy, love, guidance, spirit, and truth? Can we do it alone? Do we need God in our lives? Is more than just believing required of us?  Are acts, in themselves, saving?

In truth, it seems that both are necessary and work like hand in glove. In humbling ourselves, will we be exalted?

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email pleiker@stbernard-church.com.

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