Readings for August 29, 2021
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15- 21-23
James doesn’t mess around. Starting his letter extolling the reader to consider all suffering as joy sets a certain tone. He completes the first chapter of his letter with a call to action, “be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” To fully grasp James’ message, it would be helpful to read the chapter in its entirety rather than the abbreviated version in today’s readings. In it, the writer defines holiness and how to live out that holiness.
It’s a tough message. I find it easy to spend time in the word, reflecting on its Truth. But to be holy, for my “religion” to be pure, I must live my life according to that Truth. There is a boldness in this that many, including me, struggle to achieve. Where in our secular society is it acceptable to speak Truth, much less live it? Ridicule and scorn and, frankly, watered down theology seem to be a pattern of our current culture, paving a path for dangerous hypocrisy and double-talk. Many of us are quick to condemn others but cower at speaking for our own faith and living out that faith in love of others.
In the end, James provides a very similar message as Moses, “here are the rules, live by them and prosper, ignore them at your own peril.” The path to follow the word, to speak and live the Truth, is certainly not an easy one. But for me, it’s time to put on my big boy pants and throw caution to the wind. Ready, set, action!
My Lord Jesus, you call me to act in my faith as much as to grow in it. May I receive the gift of faith boldly and live according to your teachings and the teachings of Moses so to bring glory to God, our Father, through you. Amen