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(Part 41)


February 19, 2020

Today’s readings:
James 1:19-27
Psalm 15:2-5
Mark 8:22-26

Many people in the world, including so-called Christians, do not really see what is right and just and true. They are like the blind man of Bethsaida, seeing nothing and walking in darkness. But then some encounter Jesus, who starts to work in their lives. The blind man’s gradual cure reflects the gradual enlightenment that happens. People begin to see, but not yet so clearly. “I see people looking like trees and walking.” (Mk 8:24). Then Jesus touches them further and they can see clearly. “Then he laid hands on his eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly.” (Mk 8:25).

This is what happens when we listen to and act on the words of God. In the world, there are those who do not listen to or act on God’s words. They remain blind and in darkness. There are those who hear but do not really listen, or who do not act on what they hear. They are no better off. “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.” (Jas 1:22). Then there are those who act on God’s words. “But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does.” (Jas 1:25). He would have built on Rock.

In what ways do we act on God’s words?

First, we must strive for holiness. “Therefore, put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.” (Jas 1:21). This is what true religion is all about. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: …. to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (Jas 1:27a,c). The one who can dwell on God’s holy mountain is “whoever walks without blame, doing what is right” (Ps 15:2a).

Second, true religion is also about purity in speech. “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain.” (Jas 1:26). This means not easily falling into anger. We are to be “slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God.” (Jas 1:19b-20). We are to always speak the truth, “speaking truth from the heart” (Ps 15:2b). We are not to slander or malign others. One “does not slander with his tongue, does no harm to a friend, never defames a neighbor” (Ps 15:3).

Third, we are to act in integrity. We are to keep our promises. One “keeps an oath despite the cost” (Ps 15:4b). We are not to renege on commitments.

Fourth, we are to stay away from evildoers, and mingle with those who are God’s people. One “disdains the wicked, but honors those who fear the Lord” (Ps 15:4a). The company we choose will have a great bearing on whether we enter more deeply into faith or not.

Fifth, we are to be mindful of and care for the poor. We are “to care for orphans and widows in their affliction” (Jas 1:27b). In assisting the poor, one “lends no money at interest, accepts no bribe against the innocent.” (Ps 15:5a). We are to have a preferential option for the poor.

Acting on God’s words per above, and in many other ways as well, will keep our house standing even in the face of heavy winds and floods buffeting us. “Whoever acts like this shall never be shaken.” (Ps 15:5b).

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