Scripture: James 1:12-18. Psalm 94:12-13.14-15.18-19. Mark 4:14-21
Reading between the lines is very difficult for those who do not speak your language. Nuances and idiomatic expressions are not easily learned. This is not the case when we listen to the words of St. James in his epistle. His contrasts are many and they are clear. He is very dedicated to the Hebrew Scriptures and shares his wisdom writings with us this week. We are already finishing chapter one.
James describes himself as a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. (James 1:1). In his opening verses he is off to a quick start in what he wishes to share with us in his inspired words. The Holy Spirit is at work in his message. He gives us the importance of patience in enduring and living out our faith in the person of Jesus Christ the source of his wisdom together with the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 1 in the Psalter is similar to what he is saying. Blessed are those who follow and meditate on God’s law. They are like leafy and healthy trees planted near the waters of a running stream or river. Their leaves never fail and they have fruit. But unhappy are those who sit with scoffers and do not pay attention to God and God’s people. They are likened to chaff blown by the wind in the desert. James is right at home with such language and we will hear his voice using these contrasts and comparison in our readings for the coming week. James is bold and fresh in the way he addresses those reading or listening to his epistle. Vice and virtue are described; wisdom and foolishness are squared off against each other. Wisdom wins. It is refreshing to hear such a clear message from time to time and to be led back to the basics of our roots in the epistles.
James connects our reading with what we learned yesterday in this letter especially through the enduring patience that is necessary to live a life of vibrant faith. Patience fortifies our faith.
The last paragraph is one of the gem like passages in his message. God’s goodness to his creatures is that of a loving Father, a loving parent. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration. Of his own will he was begotten by the word of truth, that we might be, as it were, the first-fruits of his creatures.” ( James 1:16-18). God’s is a loving person steaming with the light of truth from above. Psalm 94:12-13 is our prayer for this beautiful citation: “Happy those whom you teach, O Lord. Yes, happy those whom you instruct, O Lord,whom by your law you teach, giving them rest from evil days.” (94: 12-13) Amen.