We Are All Saved By Faith In Christ Jesus
In the first reading, St Paul pushes, forcefully, one of his greatest theological dissertations of Righteousness by Faith (not by law). We cannot save ourselves by observing laws and relying on our religious practices. We are saved simply by the goodness of God who revealed himself to us in Christ. Even our faith is a gift from God and this faith will set us free from sin and make us share in God’s goodness and love. This is difficult to understand for the scribes, the legalists of Christ’s day, and also for the legalists of our time. They cannot understand that everything is grace…
1 Reading: Romans 3:21-30
Brothers and sisters: Now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, though testified to by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his Blood, to prove his righteousness because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed, through the forbearance of God–to prove his righteousness in the present time, that he might be righteous and justify the one who has faith in Jesus. What occasion is there then for boasting? It is ruled out. On what principle, that of works? No, rather on the principle of faith. For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Does God belong to Jews alone? Does he not belong to Gentiles, too? Yes, also to Gentiles, for God is one and will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 130:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6ab
R. (7) With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication. R.
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
Lord, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered. R.
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the LORD
more than sentinels wait for the dawn. R.
Alleluia: John 14:6
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Luke 11:47-54
The Lord said: “Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets
whom your fathers killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and Apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute’ in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.
The law, good in itself, had proven ineffective in bringing about justification. Incapable of being observed in all its detail, it had led to nothing but frustration. But now God’s righteousness or fidelity to his promises has been realized in the justification that comes to Gentile and Jew alike through faith in the redemption in Jesus Christ. Sins of former days, committed with God’s patient forbearance, are now remitted through faith in Christ Jesus. All of this is accomplished apart from the law, since this is the God of the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Both the circumcised and uncircumcised are justified because of his universal love. Since this is all gift, there is no room for boasting.
In continuing his reproach of the Jewish leaders, the Lucan Jesus accuses them of building memorials to the prophets whom their fathers had killed. These acts of violence continued to the present in the persecution of both prophets as well as apostles of the Christian era. It is estimated that, around the world, eleven Christians are killed each day because of their faith in Christ Jesus. The end result is the present culpability for the death of all the prophets from Abel, the first to die, to Zechariah, the last prophet to be mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.
And with the dawn of the era of Christ, the scholars of the law not only refused to enter but prevented others from doing so. The Igbos call this type of people “agada gbachiri u̩zo̩” (the heavy log that blocks the way). Hostility toward Jesus arises after these accusations. In speaking of the ineffectiveness of the law, Paul has alienated his former co-religionists. In speaking out, Jesus points to the continued wrongdoing of the Jewish leadership. There are times when all of us are called to take a stand. It is not an easy thing to do. But if principles for which we stand suffer attack, we have no other choice. I keep on reminding us of Gani Fawehinmi`s great remark: stand by the truth always, even if you’re standing alone.
Let us thank God for all the graces he has given us, especially our faith and our Lord Jesus Christ among us. Let us also be grace and blessing to one another, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!