Today is Thursday the 16th of February, in the Sixth Week of Ordinary Time.

Tenebrae, directed by Nigel Short, sing the Magnificat from Rachmaninov’s Vespers, Mary’s song about the God who casts the mighty from their thrones and raises up the lowly, who fills the starving with good things and sends the rich away empty, a God who has no regard for riches, for power and status, but looks to the heart. As I enter into prayer today, can I put everything else aside for a moment, and humbly offer my heart to the Lord?

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 nodding away – “yes, that’s right; you tell’em, James!” – 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.