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JUSTIFICATION AND LAW
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Saturday, 27th Week of the Year, October 13, 2012
Gal. 3:22-29, Ps. 104, Luke 11:27-28


"If a law had been given which could make alive, then righteousness would indeed be by the law" (Gal. 3:21).


St. Paul continues proclaiming his gospel today, the good news that God's salvation has now been revealed in Jesus Christ through his death on the cross by means of our faith in him, and not by means of the law. The law told us what was good and bad but did not give us the power to do the good. And in fact, having informed me that certain things were sinful, it has made me even guiltier for knowing better what God requires of me. So "the very commandment which promised life proved to be death to me" (Rom. 7:10).


Justification rather comes through faith in Christ, not from our own works according to the law. No one has ever been able to follow the law perfectly without sin (Rom. 3:20), and so no one is righteous before God by his own works according to the law. "For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20). "For if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose" (Gal. 2:21). The law was only the preparation for the coming of Christ; and now that he has come, justification comes through faith in him. "The law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian" (Gal. 3:24-25). "Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live'" (Gal. 3:11). "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1).


"Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3), paying with his death on the cross our debt of punishment for our sins, thus freeing us from our sins and from their punishment when we believe in him. He makes us righteous and holy-justifies us-through the merits of his death when we put our faith in him, especially in the sacrament of reconciliation (John 20:23). Thus he justifies us, making us resplendent before God with all our guilt erased and removed from us, and all this is through our faith in him.


Then Christ rose from the dead, giving us a new life (Rom. 6:4) in his light (John 8:12). He wants us to walk in this light by observing his moral law and doing his will. When we fail to do so, we come before him anew with repentance and faith to be justified by him again, and then try once again to do his will.


It is very important to try to always keep God's moral law, not in order to justify ourselves thereby-for that is impossible-but to remain justified once we have been justified through our faith in Christ and to grow further in sanctification. If we fail to keep the moral law and do not do God's will, we will lose our justification, and will have to seek it again through faith in Christ, using the sacrament of reconciliation.


In today's gospel Jesus teaches us the importance of doing God's will. "A woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!' But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it'" (Luke 11:27-28). On another occasion "he was told, ‘Your mother and your brethren are standing outside, desiring to see you.' But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it'" (Luke 8:20-21). Once justified by faith, not by works of the law, we have to follow the moral law of God to remain justified and to grow in sanctification.

 

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