6th Week, Friday, Feb 21st- Reflection & Liturgy

James 2:14-24, 26 / Mark 8:34 - 9:1 
James talks about helping people: Faith without words is dead.

Seven-year-old David Rothenberg was kidnapped by his mentally ill father and set ablaze as he slept in a California motel. David suffered third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body. Reggie Jackson, who was playing for the California Angels then, heard about the tragedy. He located the hospital where David was and visited with him. That was the beginning of a series of kindnesses on the part of Jackson toward David. Since Jackson’s acts of kindness, David’s situation has gone from one of being a life-or-death situation to one of recovery. The turning point, said the boy’s mother, Marie Rothenberg, was Reggie’s concern— and subsequent visits with David.
How is our own faith translating itself into good works? “Until we lose ourselves there’s no hope of finding ourselves.” Kwame Nkrumah
In the 3rd century BC, Quintus Ennius wrote: 'Amicu certus in re incerta cernitur'. Translated from the Latin it means 'a sure friend is known when in difficulty'. We know the present version of this saying as "a friend in need is a friend indeed". Or it can also be read as "a friend in need is a friend in deed". Whichever is preferred, they almost have the same meaning that a friend who stays with you when you are in trouble (need) is a true friend (indeed, in fact).

In the 1st reading, we heard that Abraham is called a "friend of God". Not that he helped God in something or that he did something of merit for God. Rather it was his faith and his faithfulness to God that he lived out his life and even to the extent of offering his son Issac on the altar. In fact, it was God to came to his help in his times of need, and it was difficult to follow the ways of God but Abraham just kept on believing. (He was 100 and Sarah was 90 when they had Issac!)

Yes, the ways of God are difficult to believe and to follow. And those who do so are truly "friends of God". Following Jesus is also difficult. And He tells us in today's gospel that if anyone wants to follow Him, he must renounce himself and take up his cross.

We are more than just friends of Jesus. We are His disciples. Let us ask Jesus to strengthen our faith that we may be faithful to Him always.

When we stand by Him in our need, He will stand by us indeed, and in our need.
Friday of 6th Week - LITURGY


Today, we have in the first reading one of the most important passages of James: faith demands commitment – or, as Jesus will say in the Gospel, consistent discipleship. “Faith without works is a dead faith,” a mere belief in theoretical tenets. Sometimes, James is opposed to Paul – that was Luther’s main difficulty – because Paul says we are saved by faith, not works. Both take “works” in a different sense. “Works” for Paul is the observance of the Jewish practices of the old Law, from which the Christian is liberated, but for the follower of Christ, says Paul, faith works through love, through adherence to Christ. So, let our faith shine in works of love and service. Being a disciple of Jesus implies journeying with Jesus on the way of the cross. Christians, followers of Christ, are people marked with the cross. We make the sign of the cross not merely symbolically when we pray but also in real life, whether we like it or not. We have to learn to accept the cross with Jesus. 

Opening Prayer 
Lord our God, we believe in you with all our being. Let this faith never be a lifeless belief in abstract truths outside ourselves, but a deep personal commitment to your Son, Jesus Christ. Give us the courage, we pray you, to live for our brothers and sisters and if need be to lose our life for them and for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Paul emphasizes that faith saves. James says that a faith that does not express itself in works is a very dead faith. How can one claim to be a believer and then bypass the person who is without food or clothing? There is no contradiction between Paul and James. Paul insists that the gift of faith is never merited or achieved through human effort. James would not find fault with that. But, he would go on to say, once a person comes to faith, that faith comes to life through a virtuous life. Concern for others, cross bearing, and spiritual dedication find expression in good works. This means that faith is always pure gift, but it expresses itself in virtuous activity. This is wholly consonant with today’s Gospel. If a believer loses his spiritual vision and pursues only earthly benefits, that person is living a life of contradiction. That person’s faith has been derailed. A life lived in faith is not difficult to detect. The people who truly live in faith can be identified because they are the ones who give of themselves and their possessions without hesitation. An old saying puts it well: “True faith means to live one’s life in such a way that it would make no sense if God did not exist.” 

Points to Ponder 
Justification through faith
The role of works with faith
The faith that gives meaning to faith 

 – For the community of the Church, that our leaders may inspire us by their faith and that we may bring our joy and peace to a world in dire need of hope and love, we pray:
– For our families, that parents may inspire their children by their living faith and help the young to become honest seekers of justice, truth and Christian hope, we pray:
– For all of us here, that our faith may prompt us to live and practice what we believe and that we may have enough faith in one another to build up together a real Christian community, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts 
God our Father, with bread and wine, we express our faith in the paschal mystery of Jesus, your Son. Let this faith recognize him here among us and fill us and our meager works with his consistent and persevering power, that we may live as we believe and hold on to Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

Prayer after Communion 
Lord our God, you have begun your good work in us because you believe in our capacity of living the life of your Son. Let him bring it to completion, that it may be a life filled with goodness and love and that the world may have become a bit better because we have lived in it. Let this Eucharist lead us to you, our God, for ever and ever. 

What, indeed, is the use of our faith if we do not live by it? What is the use of believing in love if we do not love? What is the use of believing in forgiveness if we cannot forgive? Live as you believe, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.