Good Works and the Flourishing of Faith

This article concludes this five part discussion of how to build, in a steady and consistent way, our friendship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. In particular, this article will focus on good works as the flourishing of faith.

We must of course remember that our call to this friendship and finally to glory in heaven is a free gift, which no amount of good works can earn. Our status as sons and daughters of God not only begins by divine grace, but is carried out and completed through this power of God. However, we must choose to continue to accept this gift through our faith, hope and love of God; and if these virtues are real, they will include good works. For, as St. James wrote, “Faith, by itself if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:17.

It is not only that authentic faith manifests itself in a better life and that good works make the faith attractive to others, as important as those facts are. It is also the case that, if we act in a manner called for by God and His Church, our relationship with Him, and with the communion of saints, will grow and become more joy-filled. By contrast, if we act in a fashion contrary to the callings of God and His Church, such faith, hope and charity will decline and eventually vanish, as Jesus illustrates in the parable of the houses built upon rock and upon sand. See Matt. 5:24-27. In living this life both worthy of God and leading to greater relationship with Him, it is important to begin by keeping the commandments, especially the Ten Commandments.

For, as Jesus told the rich young man, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” Matt. 19:17. But, as He also made clear to that man, we are called to go further than simply keeping the commandments; we are called to a life of heroic virtue, each in our own way. And, in discerning how to act with generosity, courage and divine love, we should set our sights high. Thus, for example, it is a good idea for all people regularly to read the Sermon on the Mount, which sets forth the overall principles of a Christian life, and consider how we are fulfilling those sacred words. Likewise, learning about the saints and praying with them should inspire us to live in a manner worthy of their company, now and for all time.

And, of course, we should always ask how we would act if we actually saw Jesus, Mary and the angels and saints with us. For they are with us now; and we strive one day to see them, and be welcomed by them, in eternal glory.