You’ve probably these questions in relation to salvation: Are we saved by faith alone? Do Catholics believe that if they do all these good things, you’ll get into heaven? As a cradle Catholic, the doctrine of salvation being a combination of faith and good works was basically drilled into my head for as long as I could remember. Today’s passage from Ephesians, however, gives a little bit more clarity about how salvation works.
In spite of what people may think, doing good deeds is not the Catholic way of “buying our way into Heaven.” Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are what he has made us,created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”
Think of salvation this way: Grace and faith have been given to us in the same way that superheroes unexpectedly get their powers. And as we all know, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Comic book heroes who are given great powers are often compelled to use those powers to help those in need. One classic hero whose story revolves around power and responsibility is Spiderman.
Most people know Spiderman’s story from the movies: Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider and gains the abilities of a spider: web-slinging, being able to sense oncoming danger, and a bit of extra strength and agility. The various comics, tv shows, and movies center on Peter Parker balancing life as a superhero with his everyday life.
One instance where Spiderman takes responsibility for the actions is in Spider-Man 2 in which Peter Parker temporarily loses his powers and Mary Jane gets kidnapped. In spite of him not having his powers, he goes to rescue Mary Jane from Doctor Octopus, the main villain of the movie. In the process, Peter gets his powers back and saves not only her, but a whole train that was about to derail.
We may not have superpowers in the same way that Spiderman does, but as Catholic Christians, we are given the responsibility to do good with the grace we’ve been given. As my Catholic Youth Bible said “We are saved not by doing good works, but in order to do good works.” (Emphasis mine.) This is where the passage from James comes in. How can we be a good example of God’s love in the world if we don’t do anything that shows it?
The passage from the Letter of James is majorly harsh to read, but as we all know, actions speak louder than words. I hope that today’s reflections can be a call to action, dear sisters in Christ. Take some time to reflect on the great power we’ve been given and the responsibility we have to make the world a better place. We can all be heroes.
Who are the everyday heroes in your life? How do you think their actions show God’s grace?
Have you ever done something heroic? How do you think you can be a hero to someone?
Actions: Do something heroic! (Use Matthew 25 for ideas.)