6th Week, Monday: Feb 17th: Reflection & Liturgy

James 1:1-11 / Mark 8:11-13

James talks about death: Death comes to all, rich and poor alike.

It’s fascinating to note how People magazine selects the people who will appear on its cover. The editors have an unwritten law that young people are preferable to old people, TV stars are preferable to movie stars, and athletes are preferable to politicians.

There’s another fascinating statistic. A sample year of People covers showed that almost one of four covers were death related. This caused one editor to quip, “Maybe we should change the magazine’s name to Dead People.” The death-related covers underscore what James says in today’s reading. As the flowers of the field wither away and die, “the rich man will be destroyed while he goes about his business.”
Do we ever meditate on the brevity of life and the certainty of death? “Our hearts ... like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The life of a Christian is certainly no different from the life of the others around him. By and large, whether atheist or believer, rich or poor, religious or laity, man or woman, life has its difficulties and struggles. More so for us who believe in God, we are certainly not spared of these turmoil of life, and we cannot expect to either.

We are either coming out of a storm or headed towards one, though there might be a moment of peace when we are in the eye of the storm. Yet we must continue to believe that although God did not promise us that there will be no storms, He did promise us that He will be with us in the storm.

This faith in God is a powerful sign for others to recognize that God is indeed truly with us in our difficult and stormy moments. The problem the Pharisees had with Jesus was that they expected Him to work spectacular and phenomenal signs.

Jesus refused to give them any of these kinds of signs because He has already given them the example of His life. To give them more signs would be like to show a blind man more pictures.

In Jesus, we see how our Master faced His difficulties and struggles and He showed us how to overcome them by putting His faith in God His Father.

The 1st reading attested to this and urges us to see our trials as a blessed privilege for growth of a deeper faith in God. Faith is like a teabag. You have to put it in hot water before you know how strong it is.
Monday of 6th Week - Liturgy


For two weeks, our first reading in Year II is taken from the letter of James, a relative of Jesus and leader of the Judaeo-Christian community of Jerusalem. He draws heavily from the Jewish wisdom literature and the teachings of the Gospel. His key messages are concern for the poor and faith that is productive in good works. In the Gospel, the Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign that his authority came from heaven. But we too look often for signs and reassurances. Are the words of Jesus not assurance enough? Does not faith consist in trusting him? Our sign is the life and the message of Jesus. 

Opening Prayer 
Lord God, forgive us that in our weak faith, we ask sometimes for signs and wonders. We know that you are our Father, but it is not always easy for us to recognize your loving presence. Give us eyes of faith to see the sign that you are with us in Jesus and his message. We say so reluctantly, for it is painful: purify our trust in you and in Jesus, that we may become more mature Christians, who love you through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Early in his epistle, James introduces one of his central themes: it is the humble of this world who will ultimately be exalted, and it is the proud who, in their riches, will wither away. This is one of Christ’s central teachings. When the final reckoning is made, riches will dry up like flowers, and vegetation will perish under the blazing heat of the sun. It is unfortunate that so many of us are bewitched by temporalities. Yet there is great freedom in a life that is unfettered and not held hostage by material encumbrances. Of course, we all have responsibilities and people we must provide for. But our consumer culture continually tries to convince us that we need more, more, more. It is a danger that James does not hesitate to bring to light. Jesus says in the Gospel that no further sign is necessary. He is the sign, the final word of God. We need only heed his voice. 

Points to Ponder 
The danger of riches
Humility as openness to God
Jesus himself as the sign 

– For people who have to face trials, that they may grow as persons and Christians through this testing of their faith, we pray:
– For those who doubt their faith or who hesitate to commit themselves the way their faith demands, that the Lord may give them insight and strength, we pray:
– For all of us, that the Lord may increase our faith and make it spontaneous and rich, without our needing special signs, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts 
God, our Father, when contradicted and rejected, your Son Jesus did not waver. He accepted life with its sufferings to bring us forgiveness and joy. Do not allow us to be tossed about by the waves of our doubts and fears, but accept in this bread and wine our will to be faithful to you and each other in trials as well as in joys. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

Prayer after Communion 
Lord our God, loving Father, we know that unseen but ever-present, you stand by our side in days of trial. Help us also not to abandon our brothers and sisters in need but to strengthen their trust in you, that together we may go forward toward the joy that you promise us through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

The sign given us by Jesus is Jesus himself, God is showing himself in Jesus, in his inspiring word of life, in the tenderness of his healing, in his acceptance of all people, including outcasts and the poor. May God open your eyes and bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.