The argumentation for sola fide, faith alone, will continue till the end of time, or so it seems, because it is argued on two parallel planes. There can be no common denominator or point of intersection without these two planes “bending” an ear to what the other is saying. Maybe today’s readings can help.
The Psalm Response describes the just man as one whose heart is firm, trusting in the Lord; an evil report he shall not fear. Where does such trust and fearlessness come from? It can only come from Faith, which in turn makes him Just, with a firm heart, and trusting in the Lord.
Is that it? Can a heart, trusting in the Lord, remain silent? Can it live in solitude, oblivious to the needs of others and the sharing of the Faith that brings him Peace? Can he now say, like the rich man, “I shall tear down my barns and build bigger ones… rest, eat, drink and be merry?” (Luke 12:18-19) On the contrary, I think we all know better.
At this point some might run to St. James’ letter and quote: See how a person is justified by works and not by Faith alone (2:24). As is often the case, we must be most cautious about lifting one line of scripture out of context to justify an argument. The whole passage, from verse 14 through 26, is worth reading. He does not separate Faith and Works. The last line of the passage sums it up best when he says: For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also Faith without Works is dead.
Isaiah, in today’s first reading, describes such a Faith when he tells the Israelites how to Live their Faith, which is neither dormant nor solitary. It is filled with acts of charity. St. Paul, in today’s letter to the Corinthians, confirms that Faith does not rest on human wisdom but on the power of God. In the Gospel, we hear Jesus speak of our Faith with the metaphors of light and salt. If we connect these proclamations with our theology, we can see a Faith that must be active and whose activity merits Grace, which, in turn, strengthens our Faith, making it firm and trusting in the Lord