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Sacred legacies: "Living Faith- Compassion in Action." (Matthew 25:31-46, and James 1:26-27)

Sacred legacies: "Living Faith- Compassion in Action." (Matthew 25:31-46, and James 1:26-27)

What is faith? Paul describes this in Hebrews 11: Faith is things hoped for and not seen, but it has encouraged many people of God throughout history through the visions of the future. The invisible is more accurate than the visible, but throughout the Church's history, the mighty works of faith were done by those whose faith was unfulfilled. Faith is simple and can become a blessing in our lives. Faith takes the virtues of obedience, patience, trust, and confidence, so join me as we embark on the life of Elizabeth the Wonderworker and delve into the timeless truths from passages Matthew 25:31-46 and James 1:26-27, which are deeply intertwined with the concept of faith. Our voyage will teach us the importance of faith and works and how never to separate the two for any reason.


Saint Study:

Saint Elizabeth the Wonderworker, also known as Saint Elizabeth of Constantinople, is venerated in the Orthodox Church for her unique life of asceticism and her miraculous works attributed to her by the grace of God. Born in Heraclea of Thrace, in modern-day Turkey, she dedicated herself to a life of virginity and intense spiritual discipline from a young age, leaving a lasting legacy in the Church.

Her ascetical labors were rigorous and comprehensive, including fasting, prayer, and various forms of self-denial. She undertook these practices to draw closer to God and to attain spiritual perfection. It's said that through her devout life, she was granted the gift of wonderworking, performing miracles through the power of God.


She lived during the fifth century, which was marked by significant theological developments and debates within the Christian Church. Despite the formidable challenges of her era, she remained unwavering in her faith and commitment to serving God.


The Orthodox Church remembers and honors Saint Elizabeth on April 24th each year. Her life inspires many believers, encouraging them to pursue holiness and devotion to God in all aspects of their lives.


Matthew 25:31-36 - READING

Understanding: This passage depicts the final judgment, a moment of profound significance, where Jesus, the Son of Man, will separate people into two groups: the righteous (sheep) and the unrighteous (goats). The criterion for this judgment is not wealth or status but how they treated others, particularly those in need. The righteous are not praised for their achievements but for their compassion and care for needy people, while the unrighteous will not be condemned for their failures but for their neglect. This should be a powerful reminder of the importance of compassion and care in our lives.

Connection to Galatians 4:4-7 (v. 34): In Galatians 4:4-7, Paul speaks about how believers become heirs of God through Christ, receiving the Spirit of adoption. This connection highlights how those blessed and who inherit the kingdom prepared by the Father (Matthew 25:34) are akin to heirs through Christ (Galatians 4:4-7), emphasizing the relationship between salvation and compassionate actions towards others.


Connection to Matthew 22:39 (v. 40): In Matthew 22:39, Jesus summarizes the second greatest commandment: loving your neighbor as yourself. Here, Jesus reinforces this principle by equating acts of kindness towards others, especially people in need, as expressions of love towards Him, underscoring the interconnectedness of loving God and loving others, as demonstrated through compassionate deeds.


Personal Application: My experience of being a voice for the weak and advocating for the needy and homeless aligns with the teachings of this passage. By being a voice for those in need, I embody the Spirit of compassion and empathy that Jesus calls His followers to demonstrate. My actions reflect the love of Christ and serve as a tangible expression of caring for the least among us. When I read about saints like Elizabeth the Wonderworker, it moves me with more love and compassion, and her story resonates with me, namely that we tend to the needy and help all those who need it without excuses.

In summary, Matthew 25:31-46 emphasizes the importance of compassionate action towards others, highlighting how such actions are directly linked to one's relationship with God and kingdom inheritance. Your application exemplifies living out this principle in real-life situations, echoing the teachings of Jesus in your advocacy for the marginalized and vulnerable in society.


James 1:26-27 READING:

Understanding: James emphasizes the importance of authentic faith expressed through actions. He warns against mere lip service to religion without corresponding deeds, highlighting that such faith is futile. According to James, true religion involves practical expressions of love and compassion towards the vulnerable and marginalized and a life of moral integrity and separation from worldly influences.


Application to Saint Elizabeth the Wonderworker: Saint Elizabeth's life exemplifies the essence of genuine religious devotion outlined by James. Her dedication to a life of asceticism and her miraculous works were not mere outward displays of religiosity but were grounded in a sincere love for God and others. She lived out the principles of visiting the needy, feeding the hungry, and caring for the sick, embodying the pure and undefiled religion described by James.


Application to Your Personal Story: Similarly, my commitment to advocating for the needy and homeless reflects the Spirit of James' teaching. By being a voice for the weak and marginalized, I'm demonstrating the tangible expression of true religion. Our actions go beyond words or beliefs, illustrating a genuine faith active in love and compassion. Furthermore, our endeavor should keep us from being spotted by the world by standing up for the vulnerable, aligning with James' call for moral integrity and separation from worldly influences.


Understanding the Relationship Between Faith and Works: James emphasizes the inseparable connection between faith and works. True faith naturally produces good works as its fruit. However, these works are not a means to earn salvation but rather the outworking of a transformed heart and genuine belief in Christ. As James later asserts (James 2:17), faith without works is dead, meaning it is not authentic if faith does not result in corresponding actions.


In summary, James 1:26-27 underscores the importance of genuine faith expressed through practical acts of love and compassion towards others, coupled with moral integrity and separation from worldly influences. Saint Elizabeth the Wonderworker and my personal story exemplify the principles outlined in this passage, demonstrating the inseparable relationship between faith and work in the Christian life.

 

"True faith is not found in words alone but in the silent masterpiece of compassionate deeds that echo across humanity, uniting hearts and souls in the pursuit of love's enduring legacy."


In Christ, love Jared W. Campbell







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