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4.8 What is the relationship between faith and actions?

Living a Christian life

Living as a Christian means making conscious decisions about our actions (what we do and do not do), based on our relationship with Jesus. As the Bible says, “faith apart from works is dead” (Jas. 2:26) Jas. 2:26: As the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.. If you really believe in Jesus, then you will want to do what he asks of you: to love God and your neighbour.

One way in which we can demonstrate this commitment is by trying to respect the Ten Commandments, even if we are not always successful in doing so. God is more concerned with the love demonstrated through our gifts, than with how much we give (Mk. 12:41-44) Mk. 12:41-44: He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him, and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.”. As Christians, we are called to work for the well-being of all our fellow human beings.

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Without good works our faith is dead. Our task is to work with the grace we receive from God and thereby testify to our faith.

The Wisdom of the Church

By what is love for the poor inspired?

Love for the poor is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes and by the example of Jesus in his constant concern for the poor. Jesus said, “Whatever you have done to the least of my brethren, you have done to me” (Matthew 25:40). Love for the poor shows itself through the struggle against material poverty and also against the many forms of cultural, moral, and religious poverty. The spiritual and corporal works of mercy and the many charitable institutions formed throughout the centuries are a concrete witness to the preferential love for the poor which characterizes the disciples of Jesus. [CCCC 520]

What significance do the poor have for Christians?

Love for the poor must be in every age the distinguishing mark of Christians. The poor deserve not just a few alms; they have a claim to justice. For Christians there is a special obligation to share their goods. Our example in love for the poor is Christ.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3)—that is the first sentence in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. There is material, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual poverty. Christians must look after the needy of this earth with great consideration, love, and perseverance. After all, on no other point will they be evaluated by Christ so decisively as on their way of treating the poor: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). [Youcat 449]

This is what the Church Fathers say

When we hear, 'Your faith has saved you', we do not understand [God] to say absolutely that those who have believed in any way whatever will be saved, unless also works follow. [St. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, Bk. 6, Chap. 14 (MG 9, 329)]