Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time
February 25, 2020
Today, in Mercy, we are creeping up to Lent’s doorstep.
Are you beginning to consider your Lenten rituals? Our readings today might help orient us.
They leave this question hanging in the air: Who do I really want to be in my life?
James says that if we are someone who loves the world, we will find ourselves at enmity with God. James defines “the world” as a place in discord, conflicted by covetousness, envy, frustration, and death-dealing.
James is directly addressing damaging squabbles within the Church itself. Infighting has caused fractures within his believing community. Failures in mutual charity and sincere prayer have generated “wars” among the members.
Why would anybody choose to contribute to such a negative environment?
James pins it on one thing: jealousy. We are jealous to be, have, control, and possess more than others. We are tempted by power, riches and esteem. We want our opinions to be honored, our needs to be met above and before others.
The reality exists today as well, as we know too well.
- We see it in the Church from factions who want to bend the Gospel to their own agenda.
- We see it within and between nations who raise the advantage of some over the welfare of others.
- We see it in families, businesses, and social circles where individuals volley for position, influence, or control over others.
These conflicts pour out in criticism, judgements, biases, shunning, and all kinds of failures in compassion, respect, and honesty. They blind us to our common creaturehood in God, and to its demand for an equity of love, mercy, and justice.
- How could we ever kill or enslave one another, either by aggression or neglect?
- How could we separate parents from their children and put babies in cages?
- How could we participate in a global economic tyranny that leaves some without land, homes, health care, or hope?
- How could we use other human beings – or their vital resources – only for our own pleasure, power or enrichment?
Most of us do not outrightly choose these sinful behaviors. But we must ask ourselves to what degree we are complicit in them by our failures in just judgement, advocacy, political responsibility, globally sustainable choices, — just plain care and reverence for all human beings, all Creation.
The approach of Lent is a great time to revisit the question James hangs in the air for us:
- Who do I really want to be in my life?
- Do I need to make changes to do that?
- How can I prepare for a Lent that helps me make those Grace-filled changes?
We are grown-ups now, and our Lenten repentances demand more than those we learned in grade school. Fasting from candy won’t cut it anymore.
- How about we fast from cable news that feeds our biases?
- Or actually do something for our parish besides critique the Sunday sermon?
- Maybe give up some of our polluting behaviors requiring plastic and other non-recyclables?
- How about including a outsider in something where they are otherwise ignored?
- Or providing for someone’s need who would hesitate to ask for your attention?
I think James would approve of choices like that because he says:
God bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says:
God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.
So submit yourselves to God.
Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Music: When It’s All Been Said and Done – Robin Mark