THE WEEK OF TRINITY IV – TUESDAY

LESSON: HEBREWS 11:17-19

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5

Someone may wonder how we can reconcile what Jesus teaches in this Gospel with our frequent contention that works count for nothing with God and play no part at all in obtaining a favorable judgement from Him. How does it come to pass that the very opposite seems to be set forth by Christ in this Gospel? Christ says, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:36-38).

The gist of all these statements seems to be that we must gain God’s favor for ourselves by means of our works, and that by our works we must win God over so that He is merciful to us and forgives us. We, on the other hand, have always been most emphatic in insisting that it is faith alone that achieves all this.

Note well, then, that St. Paul, with the whole testimony of Scripture oft-repeated on his side, insists on the necessity of faith, that we must have dealings with God through pure faith alone. Hence, you must understand passages like the ones which we have here in our Gospel as teaching that works are the proof and verification of faith. If I have faith, then I must be merciful, refrain from judging and condemning, forgive and give to my neighbor.

SL 11:1275 (13-14)

PRAYER: Grant us your grace, O God, that we may always demonstrate the genuineness of our faith in abundant works of mercy towards our neighbor for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Editor’s note: No American Edition (AE) equivalent for today’s sermon excerpt exists at the time of this publication. For an alternate English translation of this sermon, see Lenker, Church Postil—Gospels, 4:97-110.