Christianity: Faith without works?
Voice of the Missionary
"What good is it to profess faith without works?" (James 2:14). It is the same question yesterday as it is today. Christianity oftentimes suffers that temptation of being a religion of word without works.
We talk too much, preach too much, meet too much, yet don't effect the changes that Christ requires. It's all about the poor and the beatitudes. Injustice and inequality have perennially been human and cultural problems.
The rich don't understand that religion is about justice and mercy, and without the beatitudes they will not go to heaven. As St Luke tells us: "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven."
As a born Trinidadian who has since become a Jamaican, having joined the Missionaries Of the Poor (MOP), I find myself having left the wealth of my oil-rich Trinidad to live in the ghettoes of central Kingston. Why? I seek Christ, I seek God, and the authenticity of being a Christian — which I have found in our island Jamaica.
I did not want material wealth. I was sick of the endless rounds of partying. Even in the heady days of my youth in the 1970s I sensed a void in my life and I saw a direction that Trinidad had taken that would drain every bit of spiritual desire from me.
So I took flight and landed with the Missionaries Of the Poor and found something deeper and more demanding. I was looking for meaning and purpose in life and I found it in the old rugged cross of service and sacrifice with Jesus, rejected and forgotten in the sufferings of the poor — faith without works is dead.
Every day I meditate with my MOP brothers for four-and-a-half hours. Every day my mind is bent on teaching, forming, encouraging the brothers, and now our newly formed MOP sisters.
Every day I seek to apply the knowledge and wisdom I gained, from almost 20 years on our MOP missions in India and Africa, to the numerous situations we encounter with the poor and the people at large here in Kingston.
I talk too much because I was born in Trinidad, but I love the Lord, and I love moulding young people, so this life fits me perfectly.
Just that the work never ends. But even that I have come to love. Because the work gives me life, gives countless others life, and even replenishes spent energies: it is the work of the Lord, and it is accomplished only by faith — works without faith is dead.
There is nothing better to know than that I am in a community whose sole purpose is to feed the hungry when they have no food; who give shelter to those who have nowhere to live; who clothe those who are naked; who give medicines to heal those who are sick; who pray with those whose faith is weak or even non-existent; who give the joy of God's love to those who dress in rags and can't go to church or anywhere and be accepted as worthy of living; and who bury those who have no coffin or relatives to stand and pray at their graveside.
In this I have found my happiness and my peace. Happiness: isn't that what we all seek? I can't be happy unless I have poured out my life on the forgotten and forsaken ones in the name of Christ.
And I don't think I am any different from you. I believe you too seek happiness. I believe some of you seek happiness in the wrong ways. I know that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that all of us are called to be like Him. He is the happiest and the best of all men who ever lived.
That's what I've found out.
That's what I know anyone can also discover.