“What good is it if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?” In these words James teaches that faith must be demonstrated by works. The basic idea is that what is the good of going to church then walking out and not ‘doing’ anything in between attendance at Mass? In the second reading, James also says, “Someone will say, you have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works and I, by my works, will show you my faith.”
Pope Francis has stated, “When faith is lived and shown in service to others then many doubts vanish because we feel the presence of God and the truth of the Gospel in the love that, by no merit of ours, lives in us and that we share with others.”
The “works” that we can show as an example of our faith can be simple acts of support and encouragement, shown quietly and unobtrusively. It can manifest itself through an understanding smile, a willingness to listen patiently for a couple of minutes during a busy day, being unwilling to spread gossip/rumors about others, an encouraging word, treating each other with respect and dignity. You don’t necessarily have to ‘schedule’ love/faith, though. It should be a reflex – a natural act. Small, seemingly mundane things can have an extraordinary significance. One doesn’t have to fly to a foreign country and play with children less fortunate…just be faithful in the little things. Simple “works” demonstrate our Catholic faith in action in our lives.
Faith is technically a noun, but in reality it is a verb – a call to action. Faith isn’t faith unless it is expressed and lived. When you exhibit your faith in the little things as well as the big things in life two things happen :
1) Your faith grows. When you see faith in action you can’t help but want more action.
2) Others can’t help but notice. When you live your faith, people notice. When people notice, your faith and your works are a testimony to the Good News of the Gospel. When that happens, you have faith in God and are faithful to Him.
Faith requires a steady, daily dependence on the character and teachings of God. It is a long-term commitment. Keeping faith is about community also. The Christian life is not lived exclusively between God and the individual, rather, it is lived in community with others, in our daily contacts with family, friends, co-workers, service people, etc. With these “works” we can keep the faith by remembering God’s faithfulness and continuing to grow in relationship with Him. With His help, we can be examples of a people “who, by our works, will show you our faith.”