My dear friends, 500 years ago is a long time. Martin Luther as what we have heard, he did it for the good of the Church. He wanted to inform the Church that was corrupt. He meant well. We have much to learn from the Reformation. It is important for us to realise that the
Reformation started because he wanted to bring back to the Catholic Church, the centrality
of Christian doctrine which is justification, by grace, through faith, in Christ alone. The Church, presupposes, that all good Catholics know that Christ is the one who saves them, not good works. If it were good works that could save the
Catholics, there is no need for Christ. The Church was more concerned that Catholics live out that life of faith in Christ, manifested in good works We know in James 5:17-18 St James says, “Faith without works
is dead.” “Show me your faith”, St James says, “without good works. I, by my works, will show you my faith.” Unfortunately, this was misinterpreted by
many Catholics. They were doing good works, but they forgot that good works must spring from Christ. The doctrine of the Church has always remained constant. Christ alone is our saviour. We are saved
only through faith in Him and by grace, not by good works. There is a potential danger, in this doctrine of justification by faith alone. I am sure you have read the book, ‘The Cost Of Discipleship’. And he warned Lutherans, the danger of turning costly grace into cheap grace. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship. Cheap grace means to continue to live a
worldly life, while you claim that Christ is your saviour, that He has justified you,
you continue to live a life of sin, not a life of grace. This is what St Paul warns us in Romans 6:1-2 He says we are justified by grace, that
is true, but that doesn’t give us the license therefore to sin more so that grace will abound. St Paul says of course not, you have died to sin, you should live a life of grace. We know that Martin Luther, he was a very good Augustinian monk. He was trying his best to live the Gospel life. He practiced penance, mortification, and yet he continued to fall short of the Gospel. And it was when he read the Romans 1:7, “The just man lives by faith alone.” That was his enlightenment. In the light of what we have said, let me
draw out four implications we can learn. Firstly, we need to once again establish,
reinforce the primacy of grace above all things. Primacy of grace, is that we are unworthy,
we are broken, we are wounded, we will never be good enough, for God. That is true. But God in His mercy and love, in the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord, He has shown us His unconditional love and mercy. Cling on to the primacy of grace, not human efforts, is the first lesson. We are called to learn. The second lesson, we can draw from Martin Luther will be this. As I said earlier, the context of Martin Luther’s doctrine, ‘Justification by Faith Alone’, is on account of his experience of his sinfulness. If we don’t sense our sinfulness, if we are numb to our conscience, how can we ever experience God’s mercy? The third thing we can learn, from Martin
Luther is this. Again in Martin Luther’s day, he recognised his helplessness, he clinged on to God. Today people don’t believe in God, they
don’t trust in God, they think they can solve all the problems. How do you proclaim God, therefore, Christ as the saviour to a world who does not need a saviour? If we can project a Gospel of Joy, and that
is what Pope Francis tells us, if we have the Gospel of Joy, the Gospel of Life, then
perhaps we can draw them to Jesus. And finally, my dear brothers and sisters,
without a religious encounter with the Lord, without a deep experience of our sinfulness and helplessness, unless we have the same experience, the same sentiments as Martin Luther, we will never experience, the unconditional love and mercy of God, Amen.