My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please," while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
Today is Thursday the 20 February, in the Sixth Week of Ordinary Time.
One Hope Project sings, 'In Your Truth'.
Today’s reading is from the Letter of James. James doesn’t pull any punches in this passage. His words are strong, uncompromising, pointed. How did I notice myself reacting as I heard these words? Was I encouraged, or did I feel challenged, discomforted, prompted to question my own behaviour?
It makes you wonder what was going on in the Christian communities James knew, that he had to say things like this, so bluntly. Did they think, perhaps, that they could be Christians in a kind of “contained”, limited way, carrying on the rest of their lives as normal, without this faith having implications for the whole of their lives, for everything they do? Do I sometimes think that myself?
As the passage is read again, I listen to what James says about the poor and how God sees those who are poor. What feelings have these reflections stirred in me? Perhaps I see myself as one of the poor and feel encouraged; or perhaps I don’t, and it’s been a time for a bit of soul-searching.
Whatever my feelings, I bring them honestly and openly now before the God who loves me. I speak to God about what is in my heart.