7th Week, Tuesday, Feb 25th - Reflection & Liturgy

James 4:1-10 / Mark 9:30-37 
Be humble! “God resists the proud.”

Charles Colson was a close aide to President Richard Nixon. He was convicted in the Watergate scandal and sent to prison. As a result of the Watergate experience, he underwent a deep religious conversion. One book that influenced him tremendously was C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. This passage touched him, especially: “I don’t think I have heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. The more we have it in ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. The vice I am talking about is Pride. . . . Pride leads to every other vice. Pride is a spiritual cancer; it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.”
How do we handle pride when it rears its ugly head in our life?
“A proud man always looks down on people and things.” c. s. Lewis
We may have enough of life experiences to say that nothing is a coincidence. Everything happens for, and with, a reason. For example, today's two readings are not put together by coincidence, even though it may not have been planned that way. Even in the 1st reading, St. James didn't write about the wars and battles in the Christian community by coincidence. He was addressing a startling reality that has, surprisingly, infected the Church, and all because the fundamental factor is forgotten.

He puts it in this way: Don't you realize that making the world your friend is making God your enemy? Anyone who chooses the world for his friend turns himself into God's enemy. And that was also the same spiritual infection that Jesus was addressing in the gospel with His disciples. The disciples were also fighting among themselves for status and power and glory.
Isn't this same spiritual infection also affecting us? And the disease may have gotten so serious that the poor and lowly, the humble and the helpless, end up as casualties in this battle and war of darkness.

Let us heed the spiritual advice of St. James in the 1st reading - Give in to God then; resist the devil, and he will run away from you. The nearer you draw to God, the nearer He will come to you. Yes, let us humble ourselves before the Lord and before others, and God will lift us up.
Tuesday of 7th Week - LITURGY

James points to the causes of conflict and laxity within the Christian community: not outward influences, not so much different opinions, but the evil in the heart of each, like love of pleasure and of the world, envy and pride. Gospel. (Jesus announces his passion and resurrection for the second time, but the disciples did not understand him. Do we understand? We have begun this Eucharist by placing it under the sign of the cross. Do we understand the cross, especially when it weighs on our own shoulders?) The future leaders of the Church, the disciples, are not free from dangerous defects like ambition; they seek the power of the first place in the kingdom, they do not understand that Jesus – and they, too – will have to suffer, and that service and simplicity are required to promote the kingdom. 

Opening Prayer 
Lord our God, you know what is in our hearts. Purify our thoughts, change our mentality and give us the attitude of Jesus, your Son. Help us to identify with Jesus, to accept suffering as a part of life and of our efforts to establish your kingdom. In whatever position we are, keep us humble, trusting and simple and may we have no other ambition than to serve your Son in our sisters and brothers. For he was the servant of all and so you made him our Lord for ever.

We are not certain who the original recipients of James’s letter were. But it was certainly a community beset with severe problems. Today the author speaks of conflicts and disputes. Misunderstandings are a part of life. And that is what they should remain: an understanding that has been “missed.” But how often they are allowed to fester and extend into long periods of discord and dislike? James draws an interesting parallel between those who love the world and those who love God. Those who love the world are characterized by a spirit of discord and antipathy. Those who love God operate on a different plane. God resists the proud and bestows his favors on the lowliest. In staying close to God, our hearts are purified and our hands cleansed. Interestingly enough, James makes explicit what today’s Gospel calls for. Discord and conflict often rise out of a spirit of “one-upmanship,” putting people “in their place.” But truly Christian speech never seeks to control or lord it over anyone. The one who is first, says Christ, is the servant of all and remains the least. Genuine Christians never try to place themselves over others. Even when they have to correct others, they do it with respect and concern. This central teaching of the New Testament is unfortunately easily forgotten. Ambition takes people down ruthless trails both in society and, regrettably, within the church. Friendships are cultivated to pave the way for the future, to help “climb the ladder of success.” But for the Christian, the only proper direction to move on the ladder is down to service and compassion, not “up” to self-glorification and worldly success. This is a descent that leads to eternal life. 

Points to Ponder 
Conflict resolution Dealing with a jealous spirit Becoming the “servant of all” 

– For those who are the greatest in the Church, that they may serve with great dedication and without looking down the weakest, the poorest, those wounded in life, we pray:
– For the mighty of this earth, that they may care especially about the rights, the dignity and the well-being of the lowliest masses under their charge, we pray:
– For those working in lowly jobs shunned by others, for those who have unhealthy or dangerous tasks, that we may appreciate them and that the Lord may help them, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts 
Lord our God, we bring before you ordinary food and drink, the signs of everyday life; and yet, in these your Son will become present here. Is it that you wanted to teach us that we have not to look for you in extraordinary places and things but in the simplicity of the familiar? On account of your Son, accept us as we are, just ordinary people willing to serve you. We ask you this in the name of Jesus, the Lord. 

Prayer after Communion 
Our God and Father, you have been patient with us as Jesus was with his disciples. When we were proud of our own achievements, you placed before us your perfect servant, Jesus Christ, and let us look at him and share his table. Make us like him, straightforward, spontaneous, and eager to serve you in our brothers and sisters. We know that we are in your hands and that you will support us on account of Jesus Christ, our Lord.


That terrible hunger for power and prestige! It is doing much damage, also in the Church, in our Christian communities. May God give you rather the spirit of service and bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.