James 1:19-27 / Mark 8:22-26
James talks about action: Be doers of the Word, not just hearers of it.
A zealous young salesman was assigned to a rural area in the South. One day he came upon a farmer sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of his rundown house. After introducing himself, the salesman launched into his sales pitch: “Sir, I have a book for you that is worth its weight in gold. It describes how to farm your land ten times better than you’re now doing.” The farmer continued to rock back and forth. Then, after a long pause, he said, “Young feller, I know how to farm my land ten times better than I’m now doing. My problem isn’t knowing what to do. My problem is doing it.”****
To what extent are we hearers of the Word, and not doers of it?
What keeps us from doing the Word? “Wisdom is knowing what to do. Skill is knowing how to do it. Virtue is doing it, Thomas Jefferson
Taking things for granted come so easily for us. Things go from appreciation to depreciation as quickly as ice cream melts in the noon-day sun. Yes, we take so many things for granted that it is only when we lose it then we will desperately look for it or mourn over its loss. And if we ever lose one or more of our abilities, we would certainly find it difficult to accept and even more difficult to get used to it.
The ability to see would be something that is probably at the top of our treasured list. And yet we take it for granted so often. Like what the 1st reading said, we look at our own features in a mirror and then, after a quick look, we hurry off and immediately forgetting what we looked like.
That analogy is used to describe another ability that we so often take for granted - the ability to listen, and, in the spiritual sense, to listen to the Word of God and obeying it and putting it into action.
And the 1st reading also addressed the ability to speak. A person who thinks he is serving God and yet has not learnt to control his tongue is only deceiving himself. Yes, we have the abilities to see, to listen and to speak, and yet we take it so often for granted and we do not use them properly.
In the gospel, Jesus healed the blind man. But the healing process seems to be gradual, with the blind man seeing vaguely initially and then seeing clearing later.
May we let Jesus open our senses and abilities so that we see deeper, listen clearer so that what we speak will give praise to the Lord.
Wednesday of 6th Week - LITURGY
James tells us that if we believe in a message of life and hope, real faith and real worship of God consist in doing what we believe in, and in reflecting in our attitude and deeds God’s love for us by being concerned about people far and near, especially those who are neglected and suffer much. Is this the kind of faith we have?
As a sign that he came to heal – that is, to make whole again – to bring forgiveness and life to the whole person, Jesus restores the sight of the blind, makes the deaf hear again, even raises the dead back to life. He does not only bring good news of hope and healing, he is that Good News, he embodies it in himself and shares it with people in word and deed.
Lord God, loving Father, through Jesus Christ, your living Word you address yourself today to each of us personally and as a community of faith. May we live as we believe as hearers and doers of your word, and like you and your Son, be compassionate and care for those often neglected by society, the needy, the abandoned, the distressed. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Human anger can take a dreadful toll. James inveighs strongly against it in today’s first reading. We are told to be good listeners and slow responders. Taking time to calmly deal with a conflict situation gives our anger a chance to subside and helps us more clearly discern the most appropriate way to respond. The major guide in our human response should be the word of God. When faced with a critical or conflict situation, the best question to ask is, “How would Christ deal with this?” It is useless to hear the word of God but not act on it. Certain books of the Bible speak to us directly about appropriate behaviour. We should return to these books regularly for insights on how to respond like Christians to difficult situations. James also gives us a formula for the authentic worship of God: looking after the poor of this world, the “widows and orphans” who, in traditional societies, were at a severe disadvantage because they had been left with no male provider. All who have been left imperiled by misfortune have a strong claim on our concern. To serve the poor, we ourselves must remain unsullied by the enticements of this world. We must walk the path of the just and, in the words of the psalmist, speak truth from the heart.
Points to Ponder
Reflection before acting
The experience of anger
The widows and orphans of today
Authentic worship of God
– For the Church, that like Christ it may preach the Good News to the poor and set the downtrodden free, we pray:
– For our friends and enemies in need, that we may open our hearts and hands to improve their lot and to restore their faith in the justice and friendship of people, we pray:
– For those who live in abundance, that they may become more concerned about the needy and the quality of life than about amassing more wealth, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God, the message of Jesus, your Son, became flesh and blood in his life and death. He lived as he taught. In this bread and this wine, we place ourselves and our willingness to let his death and life become flesh and blood in us, that we may proclaim by what we are and do that he is our Lord and Savior for ever.
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God, we have listened to your Son and joined him in his thanks and praise to you. Come to the aid of our frailty and let Jesus bring you through us the pure, unspoiled worship of helping our brothers and sisters in need and of breaking the bonds of evil, that we may be free with the freedom of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Among the signs of God, we have to learn to see the destitute, about whom Jesus says, “What you do to the least of your brothers and sisters, you do to me.” They are Jesus for us. May God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.