Scripture: Lectionary James 1:19-27. Psalm 15:2-3.3-4.5. Mark 8:22-26
James, the Apostle, is very visual through the examples and images he gives us throughout his epistle. The human face is especially his subject for today. He uses the face as remembering who we are after having looked at ourselves in a mirror. We are not to forget who we are as Christ’s disciples. Then he moves to the tongue and tells us that it is to be controlled. He will develop this later in the letter we are reading. We glean from this reading that listening is a way of controlling our tongue. He already has mentioned patience is another helpful gift in controlling the rudder of the tongue.
We are to listen to the word of God and to do something for others. James mentions widows and orphans. Justice is involved in what he is calling us to do this day. We listen and bring God’s righteous word to others. Again we learn to look in the mirror and see Jesus and do what he does. Disciples act on the word of God after realizing who they really are after having looked into the mirror of their lives—their soul and conscience.
There are persons who look into the mirror and ask themselves the question, “Who shall I be today?” Is it superman, Einstein, or Shakespeare. Disciples look into the mirror and realize they have the distinctive traits of Jesus within their countenance. Then we are able to act upon the words we have seen for we realize we are to be other Christs. Paul’s saying should haunt our memories, “For me to live is Christ.” (Philippians 1:21).
Jesus heals a man who is blind. He now is able to see not only Jesus but himself. What a remarkable miracle for this unknown person whom we learn about in the Gospel of Mark. The miracle does not happen all at once; it has two stages till the man sees perfectly. Maybe it is a lesson for us in how to develop our faith in the power of Jesus to heal us. We again see the importance of the face of a person and how looking into a mirror can reveal the soul. We have the expression, “the eyes are the window of the soul.” Jesus looked into the closed eyes of this man and gradually healed them. Jesus looks at us and heals us so that we can see clearly that we are the image and likeness of God. Jesus is the Son of God and certainly through his human birth is one with us as the image and likeness of God.
Our Psalm, once again, complements what James is saying and leading us to do with our eyes, tongues, and ears: “He who walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue.”
Slander is strongly condemned in this psalm. The tongue is not to slander. In Jewish teaching the Talmud warns: “Whoever speaks slander is as though he denied the fundamental principle (the existence of God). The Holy One, blessed be He, says of him,” I and he cannot dwell together in the world.”
The Talmud states that the 613 commandments of the Pentateuch are summarized in this Psalm, meaning that their moral purpose is here crystallized.Amen.