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Dear Father Angelo,

What relationship is there for Paul between Faith and work of Charity? 

Dear friend,

1. For St Paul, faith is an act by which man commits himself to God as the only source of salvation.

It is not a question of pure intellectual commitment, but of trust and obedience to God who reveals himself. Indeed, it is trust and obedience in “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

2. Faith opens man to the saving action of Jesus Christ.

It is through faith that he works the most profound redemption in the heart of man, freeing him from sin and giving him his Spirit who sanctifies through grace and works through charity. 

3. By itself, however, faith is insufficient to bring salvation to man. Nowhere in the Sacred Scripture, much less in St. Paul, is it read that “faith alone” saves.

This recognition was enough for a Protestant pastor to speak of the inadequacy of Luther’s thesis and to convert immediately to the Catholic Church. 

4. For Saint Paul “faith works through charity” (Gal 5,6) so much so that he says: “if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor 13,2).

5. When Saint Paul puts works in opposition to faith he means the works of the ancient Law, such as the observance of the rites of circumcision, of going to Jerusalem three times a year, of offering sacrifices, of giving the first fruits, etc…

Of course, these works alone cannot save if there is no grace that works through charity.

6. And it is for this reason that Saint Paul speaks so strongly of the importance of charity. He does so above all in the famous hymn of charity, which can be read in the thirteenth chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians.

Here it should be noted that charity is not identified with an empty feeling of love, but is in fact accompanied by the exercise of all the virtues. These virtues are specified, “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it does not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth “(1 Cor 13,4.6).

And again, “It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things endures all things”. “ Love will never end “(1 Cor 13,7-8). And he concludes, “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). 

7. Therefore, faith is not sufficient without works of charity.

Faith is necessary to open the door of the heart to God. But his justice or holiness is given to man through charity, without which, despite having faith or the spirit of prophecy, he would be “nothing” (1 Cor 13: 2). 

As I wish you to have greater faith and charity, I remind you to the Lord and I bless you.

Father Angelo