“Jesus did not come to teach us a philosophy, but to show us a way, indeed, ‘the’ way that leads to life. This way is love, which is the expression of true faith,” – so said Pope Benedict XVIduring his teaching on the Sunday readings, before the Angelus at Castelgandolfo on Sunday 13th September.
Pope Benedict said the two “crucial questions” posed by the Word of God were: “Who is Jesus of Nazareth for you?” and “Does your faith become works or not?”
To the first question, the Pope told the faithful, Peter responds: “You are the Christ,” “that is, the Messiah, the consecrated one of God, sent to save his people.” The Holy Father explained that: “Peter and the other disciples, then, unlike the majority of the people, believe that Jesus is not only a great teacher, or a prophet, but much more. They have faith: they believe that God is present in him and works in him.” And yet, when Jesus “announces that he must suffer and be killed, the same Peter opposes himself to the perspective of suffering and death. So Jesus must strongly reproach him, to make him understand that it is not enough to believe that he is God, but that, moved by charity, he must follow him along the same road, that of the cross. Jesus did not come to teach us a philosophy, but to show us a way, indeed, the way that leads to life. This way is love, which is the expression of true faith.”
Then, quoting Saint James’ teaching in the second reading of this Sunday’s Mass: “If faith is not followed by works, it is dead” (James 2:17), the Pope continued: “If a person loves his neighbour with a pure and generous heart, it means that he truly knows God. If instead a person says that he has faith, but does not love his brothers, he is not a true believer. God does not live in him.”
The Pope then made reference to Saint John Chrysostom, who commenting on this passage from the Letter of James, wrote: “One may have a right faith in the Father and the Son, and in the Holy Spirit as well, but if he does not live in the right way, his faith will be useless for salvation. So, when you read in the Gospel: ‘This is eternal life: that they know you, the one true God’ (John 17:3), do not think that this verse is enough to save us: a most pure life and a most pure conduct.”