The Readings today show how good works relate to our salvation. In the First Reading, God said I will profane my sanctuary, the pride of your power; the delight of your eyes, and your heart’s desire; and your sons and your daughters whom you left behind shall fall by the sword. Notice what God says about his sanctuary: YOUR power, the delight of YOUR eyes, YOUR hearts’ desire. While God admits the Temple is his sanctuary, he looks at what the people had done. The grandeur of the Temple, the extravagance of Temple sacrifice do not mean anything to God because the people profane his Temple. Our worship of God mean nothing if we continue to live in our sin. As God says in the Response today: I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children in whom there is no faithfulness. True worship is in Spirit and Truth. I have heard many say they are Catholics because they had been going to church for decades, or they were baptized Catholics or they were altar boys years ago. But all these mean nothing if one continues to live in sin. These mean nothing if I twist the teaching of the Church in terms of life and morals and faith because when I do this, I am rejecting God and I continue to live in sin.
We see this in the rich young man who comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to enter into life. Jesus tells him obey the commandments. The man seemingly boasts I have kept all these, what do I still lack. The response of Jesus is uncompromising: if you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. Many have misunderstood this as being generous to the poor, or taking time to serve the poor and they neglect what is supposed to be the most important part: then, come, follow me. St Paul says this clearly in 1 Corinthians 13:3 And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing. Donating our money to the poor, serving the poor mean nothing if we do not have love, first of all, love for God and divine love for others. If I do good, to calm my conscience thinking I can buy my salvation by my good works, then I am deceiving myself. My good works will mean something only when I do it out of love for God. Love for God is seen in obedience to his command. If I give all I have to the poor, but I continue to live in sin, then I gain nothing.
Many today want to enter heaven and many think they will go to heaven even if they completely reject God’s teaching and God himself. They deceive themselves and ignorance is not a valid excuse for sin. We are responsible for our salvation and are responsible to learn about what Jesus teaches in terms of faith and morals.
Lord, let me not rely on my good works, thinking that I am saved by them. Instead, let me love you as you are so I can worship you in Spirit and Truth. Never let me deceive myself in presuming I will be saved because of what I have done. Instead, let the flame of my love for you burn in my heart so my desire will be to worship you and serve you alone, for the glory of your name.