Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Robert J. Carr
Catholic Online

The Apostle James I always read as the old fire and brimstone preacher of his day. If you read what he has to say, you can see that he is strong, to the point. Martin Luther called the letter of James a straw epistle. He even denied that it was written by St. James or any Apostle because of his emphasis on faith AND works. Since then it has been determined that in fact the Apostle James did write this letter. James' teaching on faith and works has been grossly misunderstood by both Protestants and Catholics, but it is a simple one, if we are going to live the Catholic faith, we must put our faith into action.

However, there is another part of his admonition that has been missed and it is something when we teach without this part we do serious damage to our faith and to our community. In fact, I think it is this missing part that has led to much of the major problems in our Church today.

Before, I go any further, I want you to notice something that is key. Nothing in our world is self contained and self sufficient, nothing. We reproduce through male and female. We function through left and right and we even drive our country through democrats and republicans. Our parish even runs on Spanish and English. Our cars run not on gas, but on gas and electicity. A car without a battery has to either be jumped started or push started with an outside force or it cannot be started at all. Yet without an alternator it cannot run at all. Nothing is self contained.

Once we understand that we can see that James gives us a formula for living our faith and it has two parts. If we use only one then we are like trying to run a car with gas and without electricity. Such a car is nothing more than a solid block of metal, it will never run.

Look verse 1:27: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction AND to keep oneself unstained by the world. Notice that it has two parts.

These two parts are drawn off of the two elements cited in James' Epistle: faith and works. James explains to us that faith without works is dead. Saying that you believe in God without living your faith is no faith at all. It is nothing more than empty words. However, today's reading reminds us of the polar opposite. Works without faith is destructive.

James reminds us that there are the two parts. However, in our world we are trying to work too much on just the one part. We care for widows and orphans but are we concerned about being unstained in the world? If you do not focus on both parts, your faith will fall apart.

There is a fascinating element to faith and people do not fully understand it. Despite teachings to the contrary, Jesus is correct in his words by their fruits you will know them. When we are doing what we are supposed to be doing our work is blessed by the Lord bringing not prosperity to our wallets, but prosperity to our work. That means, we may not make lots of money, but we will save lots of souls. However, if we are not doing what we are called to do, we will not bear much fruit. We may even makes lots of money, but we will not save many souls. This is the element that has to be watched. We will bear fruit when we are doing what God calls us to do and when are rooted in the faith to which he also calls us.

Therefore, James makes it clear that one of the elements of our worship is to keep ourselves unstained from the world.

Our world is filled with people who are doing what they consider to be good works, but they are not unstained by the world. James reminds us that both are required. Well what does that mean? Simple, that we need to be people who are infused with the wisdom of God and we make our decisions using that wisdom when doing our service to God and his people.

If we choose to do one or the other then we are living a false faith that is dead. Trying to be unstained by the world, while not doing good works is exactly what James defines as faith without works and says it is dead. Yet, at the same time he also makes it clear that the opposite is also true. It is this second message that is lost to this generation.

Part of the problem may be that we are dealing with the exact opposite problem that Martin Luther addressed. Martin Luther railed against any thought that one had to earn his way into Heaven. This would mean that although Jesus died on the cross, my good works must still outweigh my bad works. This is an incorrect understanding of James' teaching. In fact, I know one priest explaining how that teaching is wrong told of a lesson that he learned as a child. That when we die God will bring out a big scale and if our good works outweigh our bad works we go to Heaven and if our bad works outweigh our good works we go to Hell. Yet, notice in this model that we don't have to believe anything, we must only do good works. This is the model of faith that has gripped our society even among unbelievers. As Catholics that makes no sense. Therefore, we get lost into the belief that as long as someone is doing good things then he is by default a good holy person. Yet, we have not defined what good works are.

This sounds like the old joke of the girl who tried to defend her new boyfriend to her parents. They saw what to them appeared to be a thug. She said, that he had to be a good person after all he was doing 150 hours of service to the community.

The whole concept that all we have to do to get to Heaven is good works has destroyed many elements in our faith. We need also to be unstained by the world. It is actually the latter which is more important for it allows us to do the right thing, not what appears to be the right thing. Many people say that our world has gone crazy and indeed it has. This week as reported on Catholic Online, Fr. Gabriel Amorth spoke on Vatican Radio. An exorcist, he warned that demonic influence is strong in our society and it is strong because our Christian faith has been weakened. It has become stained by the world and the occult. Just think about how much the occult surrounds us here in New England.

If I were to ask everyone in this church individually what your sign is, what would you answer? If you answered with an astrological symbol, you would be stained by the world. That is because as Christians we do not believe in astrology, it is a violation of the first commandment. If you were to say to me, that you read your horoscope everyday in the newspaper but you do not take it seriously, I would respond with what James says: Keep oneself unstained by the world. If I eat a spaghetti dinner, and drop some sauce on my shirt, which I am known to do, I did not absorb the spaghetti sauce, but I am stained by it. If you read a horoscope, even if you do not believe in it, you are stained by it.

However, there are other elements that taint our faith. Social Justice that does not root itself in God's wisdom is not social justice it is a form of manipulation that benefits one part of society and not the other. One of the greatest problems we need to watch out for is how much our world has been tainted by a false appreciation of education. Education is essential, but when it becomes more important than faith, then education is stained by the world. Our faith enhances our education. Our education cannot replace our faith.

I am going to tell you one that may shock you. If you read the bible well, you will see that Jesus is not looking for us to be perfect, but repentant. How many good Catholics get discouraged because they are not as good as they want to be. Jesus tells us that God makes us perfect, but that he came to heal the repentant sinner and not the non-sinner. The world teaches that people can be perfect. Jesus never teaches us that. When we look down upon the sinner, or we become easily discouraged by our own sins, we are stained by the world. Likewise, when we do not have a good sense of sin. We are stained by the world.

Bishop Fulton Sheen said that in many homes, a man can get drunk, get into a fight, and drive home drunk. But as long as he did not have sex with anyone but his wife, he committed no sin. When we do not have a good sense of sin that leads us to be repentant, we are stained by the world.

James calls us to get rid of every stain that the world puts upon us and to live a pure faith. That means we need to relearn our faith and get rid of everything that draws us away from being filled with the wisdom of God.

We need to see in what philosophies that we embrace are those things that are stained by the world. One of the philosophies that has destroyed many people's faith and I am talking as Catholics in general is the one that says we need to run from suffering, sacrifice and service. The stain of the world is upon us when we focus on making sure our life is perfect here. Indeed, this is the place for us to be if we are not living a perfect life or if we choose to sacrifice a perfect life in the service of others. The world teaches that there is nothing beyond here so make this life the most perfect you can. When we live that philosophy, we are stained by the world.

Clean yourself from the stains of the world by seeking Christ more and more and allowing him to clean your vision of holiness. Allow him to transform you with his word.

I cannot emphasize enough the need for Catholics to know and read the bible everyday, especially the New Testament. Knowledge of the word of God helps us to understand God's truth. That is the light that shows us the difference between the things of the world and the things of God. That light helps us to live the pure religion of which James speaks.

Contact

St. Benedict Parish
http://stbenedictsomerville.catholicismanew.org MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - Pastor, 617 625-0029

Email

stbenedictsomerville@hotmail.com

Keywords

Faith and Works, social justice, occult, St. James

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 250 of 4,719

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Priestly Identity: Crisis and Renewal (Part 1)
Catholic Online

Al Qaeda...afraid of Benedict's message!
Hugh McNichol

Benedict XVI...calling all to hope...
Hugh McNichol

Perfect Women
Cheryl Dickow

Papal Palm Sunday Address - 'Enough With the Bloodshed'
Catholic Online

Spotlight on China
Catholic Online

Papal Homily for Palm Sunday
Catholic Online

Holy Week...Holy Time!
Hugh McNichol

Mary and Motherhood
Cheryl Dickow

The Void
Paul Sposite

Islamic violence wounds the global community!
Hugh McNichol

The Seven New Deadly Sins!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic benefits include Catholic principles!
Hugh McNichol

Remembering Father Alfred Kunz
Matt C. Abbott

David vs Goliath
Theresa Lisiecki

Happy Lent!
Paul Sposite

Diplomacy...Vatican style!
Hugh McNichol

Sub umbra Petri! (Under the Shadow of Saint Peter)
Hugh McNichol

Cuba...a neonascent Church!
Hugh McNichol

Kids in Conflict
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Writings of St. Augustine
Catholic Online

The Relevance of Lourdes at 150
Catholic Online

Hillary...what would Saint Norbert say!
Hugh McNichol

Lent...questions, answers and involvement!
Hugh McNichol

Mary, Mother of all Humanity, Hic et Nunc!
Hugh McNichol

Catholics...WAKE UP!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic Brotherhood with the People of the Covenant
Hugh McNichol

Have mercy on us O Lord! - Ash Wednesday
Hugh McNichol

Vote early, vote Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Christ, our global Alpha and Omega!
Hugh McNichol

Being Catholic means...total affirmation of being Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Seeing the World through New Eyes
Sarah Reinhard

Emulating the Angelic Doctor!
Hugh McNichol

Priests defend, commend Archbishop Raymond Burke
Matt C. Abbott

Saint Paul...a continued example of radical conversion!
Hugh McNichol

A renaissance of faith, reason and global cooperation....
Hugh McNichol

Cardinal Rigali's Homily at Life Vigil
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Silencing the Pope
Catholic Online

Papal Homily on Feast of Christ's Baptism
Catholic Online

Education and Gender
Catholic Online

The ignominy of Roe vs. Wade
Hugh McNichol

Papal Message for World Day of the Sick
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Planned Lecture at La Sapienza
Catholic Online

Pope's Letter to Jesuits' 35th General Congregation
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - Behold, the Lamb of God!
Catholic Online

That We May Be One, and Never Lose Heart
Catholic Online

Sowing Hope in Sierra Leone
Catholic Online

God-incidences are the gift of kairos moments
Mary Regina Morrell

St. Augustine's Last Days
Catholic Online

Liturgy: When There's a Medical Emergency
Catholic Online

Marriage and Celibacy: Love's Link
Catholic Online

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Rooms in My Father's House
Cheryl Dickow

Resolutions for New Year 2008
Chris Anthony

Keep teaching Holy Father!!!
Hugh McNichol

Dangers of anti-Catholic academic extremism....
Hugh McNichol

The liturgy war
Matt C. Abbott

Some Answers to a Few Common Questions about Vocations
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Christmas reflections
Chris Anthony

The Lasting Contribution of The Servant of God Pope John Paul II
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

No more bobble-head Jesus'!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Baptist World Alliance
Catholic Online

The Virgin Without Sin
Catholic Online

Cardinal Vingt-Trois on His New Mission
Catholic Online

Archbishop Forte on Religion & Freedom: Part 1
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Chromatius of Aquileia, Pope, Benedict
Catholic Online

Pope's Address for Consistory of Cardinals
Catholic Online

Trafficking in Lives
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict - On Hope
Catholic Online

The Hidden Costs of Gambling
Catholic Online

A Vital, Life-Giving Message
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Christianity's Contribution
Catholic Online

Youth and Fashion's Modest Twist
Catholic Online

Papal Homily at the Consistory
Catholic Online

Love, Marriage and Happy Kids
Catholic Online

The Virtue of Obedience: Our Duty, Our Crown
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Vere dignum et justum est!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Bishops of Kenya
Catholic Online

Democracy in Danger in Venezuela
Catholic Online

The Life-Sapping Human Virus
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Sacred Time...Come Lord Jesus!
Hugh McNichol

How Christ-like are we in our lives?
Chris Anthony

A Retreat for Today's Christian Woman
Cheryl Dickow

Pope Benedict - On Trust in God
Catholic Online

God and Caesar Seen From Down Under
Catholic Online

Praying the Luminous Mysteries for our Clergy
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Culture's Pressure on Our Girls
Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

Papal Message on the Common Good
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - St. Jerome on the Bible
Catholic Online

What Every Parent Should Know About 'The Golden Compass'
Catholic Online

Cardinal Poupard on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

A Richer Liturgical Translation: Interview With Bishop Roche
Catholic Online

U.S. Bishops' Statement on War in Iraq
Catholic Online

The 'Golden Compass' is no treasure for children
Mary Regina Morrell

Bishop Skylstad's Address to U.S. Bishops' Fall Meeting
Catholic Online

Rewarding Failure
Catholic Online

On St. Martin of Tours
Catholic Online

Undermining Parents
Catholic Online

God...our theological E.F.Hutton!
Hugh McNichol

The Secular Vs. Religion?
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Jerome
Catholic Online

The Scourge of Poverty
Catholic Online

Sons and Daughters of God...EQUALLY!
Hugh McNichol

On Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Catholic Online

Why Dads Matter
Catholic Online

Archbishop Chaput on Citizenship and Evangelization
Catholic Online

God Created Man for Life, Not Death
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for November
Catholic Online

Imposing 'Tolerance'
Catholic Online

A Turn to the Fathers: Interview With Father Robert Dodaro
Catholic Online

Evangelizing a Digital World
Catholic Online

Women Religious on Human Trafficking
Catholic Online

John Crosby on Von Hildebrand's Understanding of the Person
Catholic Online

Chicago law firm fights for civil rights, against death culture
Matt C. Abbott

On the Call to Martyrdom
Catholic Online

Media Benefits and Dangers
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - The Pharisee and the Publican
Catholic Online

Aborting Viable Lives
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Ambrose of Milan
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Prostitution: Legal Work or Slavery?
Catholic Online

Address of Holy See on Religious Liberty
Catholic Online

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

Escaping Poverty: Interview With Archbishop Silvano Tomasi
Catholic Online

Christ's Parable About the Need to Pray Always
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Eusebius of Vercelli
Catholic Online

Recovering subtle signs of our Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

On Peace, Missions and Justice
Catholic Online

Congratulations to His Eminence John Cardinal Foley!
Hugh McNichol

Giving Ourselves Completely to Mary
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

The 'Courage' to go 'Beyond Gay'
Matt C. Abbott

When Bioethics Turned Secular
Catholic Online

Confession Comeback
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Hilary of Poitiers
Catholic Online

Reemergence of Global Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

Father Cantalamessa on the Leap of Faith
Catholic Online

Month of the Rosary
Catholic Online

Why Technology Needs Ethics
Catholic Online

Cardinal Lozano Barragán on Future of Health Care
Catholic Online

How Can Catholics Understand Mary as Co-Redemprix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate?
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

New Saint Book is Visually Stunning and Filled with Detail
Lisa M. Hendey

Papal Homily in Velletri
Catholic Online

Wednesday'a Audience - On St. Cyril of Alexandria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa Analyzes Relationship
Catholic Online

Holy See Address to U.N. General Assembly
Catholic Online

Homily From Red Mass in Washington
Catholic Online

Pope Remembers Cardinal Van Thuân
Catholic Online

The brave monks of Myanmar
Chris Anthony

Faith in Politics
Catholic Online

On Lazarus and World Hunger
Catholic Online

Fighting the Good Fight: Resisting Temptation
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Media frenzy buries U.N. goals

Holy See Statement on Climate Change
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Chrysostom's Social Doctrine
Catholic Online

China's Seven Sorrows
Catholic Online

Vatican Message to Muslims for Ramadan
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the First World and Lazarus
Catholic Online

Angels, God's Messengers in a world of fragile peace and Broken promises!
Hugh McNichol

Memo to Mrs. Clinton: Why Not Baby Bonds When Life Begins?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Reorienting the Mass
Catholic Online

Report Card on Religious Freedom
Catholic Online

On Wealth and Poverty
Catholic Online

A Response to Hitchens' 'God Is Not Great'
Catholic Online

Vetoing children's health care?

The ideal family
Joseph Sinasac

Who does the judging?
Dennis Heaney

One mistake away

The Big House ban

In praise of the parish

Text of the USCCB statement for Respect Life Sunday 2007

The Outstanding Purity of Our Blessed Mother
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Educated flock

Religion and politics

Facing a door to the future
Dennis Heaney

A long debate

Who Are the True Progressives?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Petraeus offers a dose of reality

Insurgence
Robert Storr

Papal Address at Vespers
Catholic Online

Papal Coat of Arms Still Relevant
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Address at Heiligenkreuz Abbey
Catholic Online

On Loving Jesus as Mary Did
Catholic Online

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on 'Summorum Pontificum'
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Trip to Austria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the Joy of Fatherhood
Catholic Online

Commentary on Artificial Hydration and Nutrition
Catholic Online

Vatican on Nutrition to Patients in Vegetative State
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Q-and-A Session With Youth in Loreto
Catholic Online

Take a Risk, Follow Your Call: the challenge of a lifetime!
Sisters of Bon Secours

Papal lessons

Family matters

Lessons from a tragedy
Dennis Heaney

Shopping blues
Joseph Sinasac

Marriage Breakdown: Expensive and Divisive
Catholic Online

Her darkness was a warning

The Light of Mother Teresa's Darkness - Part 2
Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • St. Augustine of Canterbury: Saint of the Day for Friday, May 27, 2016
  • Daily Reading for Saturday, May 28th, 2016 HD Video
  • :-D MILLENNIALS REJOICE! New emoji Bible translation is coming!
  • Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta HD Video
  • States revolt, 11 sue to block disruptive Obama restroom edict, ...
  • Daily Readings for Friday, May 27, 2016
  • $3,600,000,000,000: the price to repair America

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 14:18-20
18 Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine; he was a priest of ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 110:1, 2, 3, 4
1 [Of David Psalm] Yahweh declared to my Lord, 'Take your seat at my ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:11-17
11 But the crowds got to know and they went after him. He made them ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For the tradition I received from the Lord and also handed on to you ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 26th, 2016 Image

St. Philip Neri
May 26: If one had to choose one saint who showed the ... Read More