Scripture: Lectionary 338 (2/13) James 2:1-9. Psalm 34:2-3.4-5.6-7. Mark 8:27-33:
James develops the theme of love for the poor. He gives us some practical examples of how we can reach out to help the poor. Hospitality is among the ways we can do this. Above all, he instructs us not to show favoritism by paying more attention to those who are richer or more attractive than the poor. Jesus has reminded us, “the poor you always have with you.” James backs that saying of Jesus by telling us to do something about it.
“Your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ glorified must not allow favoritism.” Educators and ministers are those who have the opportunity to do something about the poor among us. They frequently do by serving in shelters and institutions for the poor or the homeless. Leaders in our cities should be aware that such institutions make their cities better by those who cannot help themselves.
Treating the well off or the healthy as being better than the poor is discriminatory behavior. The helping professions are especially helpful callings that enable people to reach out and help the poor, the marginal, and those suffering from addictions and other ills.
James knows that the poor are special to God and by his own writings he has learned from the psalms that speak often of the poor of God. The poor are rich in faith and trust in the promises of God who is always there for them when others are not. Jesus too is in harmony with concern for the poor when he preaches the beatitudes, the first of which is “Blessed are the poor.” James continues to make us aware of our fellow brothers and sisters as he tells us that the law of the kingdom of God is “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Psalm 34 is perfect for our prayer today: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” The important message for today from this psalm is that the humble prayer of the poor offered to the Lord is most worthy of such praise from not only the poor but also from those who are living comfortably. Moreover, this psalm contains much wisdom and thus is in the same frame of reference as James’ epistle. One of the beautiful verses is “O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 34:9). Amen.