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James 4:11-5:6: Arrogance

Sunday, November 13, 2022

arrogance“James now turns to three forms of arrogance which exemplify life according to the measure of the world. The first is the practice of slander against a neighbor . . . A second form of arrogance is demonstrated by those who make great business plans without considering the fragile nature of their own existence . . . Finally, with a prophetic rage like that of Amos, James attacks the insolence of the rich who withhold wages from their laborers. The security gained by such fraud is illusory; the rich fatten themselves for the day of judgment”. (RG 552)

God says: Gossip and slander are forms of violence just as deadly as bullets. They murder not only the other’s reputation but your own. With your words you pigeon-hole others and rob them of the hope of change. The creation of business without me is another form of violence. When you create wealth without including me you weave fairy castles of illusion. You pretend that you are responsible for all you have stored up and for all that makes you comfortable. When you rob others of their just wages you do more than demoralize them, you presume to set yourself up as supreme judge and arbiter. All of these – gossip, slander, living without me, taking from others what is rightfully theirs – are acts of violence against your fellows and against me. When you turn away from these subtle separations from The Way, you turn toward me. And I welcome you each day with wide and embracing arms.

Study the words of the prophet Amos. Enter his name into the blog search bar and reflect on how our modern lives might fall into the three kinds of arrogance that James describes for us.

Tomorrow, a prayer for arrogance . . . 


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 552. Print.   

Image from: https://yazrooney.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/the-concept-of-forgiveness-human-arrogance-at-its-best/ 

 

 

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James 3:13-4:10: Envy

Saturday, November 12, 2022envy

“Within this call to conversion, James develops the theme of envy as exemplifying the measure of the world . . . Why is envy so singled out? Because its underlying assumption is that your gain is my loss. This is the opposite of the Spirit of the community, where all gain by anyone’s growth and all rejoice in anyone’s good fortune. Envy causes me to sorrow when another has something I lack. And when life is measured simply in terms of what I possess – ‘I am what I have’ – then for another to have and me to lack is intolerable. Envy drives the acquisitive instinct . . . the step is a short one to conflict, war, and murder, not only between individuals but also between nations . . . It is remarkable that this passage, which alone in the New Testament analyzes the causes of human conflict, should play so little role in moral discussions of war and peace”. (RG 551-552)

God says: James is correct when he tells you that envy is often at the root of your violence and anger. He is also correct when he points out that life in the Spirit means that you feel joy when one of you rejoices and sadness when one of you is in pain. Your friendship with me brings much than consolation; it brings you the ability to see the world as I see it, full of potential for goodness. I resist those who are full of pride in themselves and I nurture those who look for life in me. When you agree to live in The Way you will no longer be envious of others and you will celebrate when any one of you does well because you will understand that all good things come from me. When you are envious of others I am saddened, for your envy tells me that you do not understand my generosity. When you make war against one another I grieve,  for I can see that you do not understand my love. James is bringing my message to you . . . take time with it today.

Enter the word envy into the blog search bar and explore.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 551-552. Print.

Image from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-couch/201307/why-women-fear-envy-and-why-we-dont-need

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James: Appropriate Action

Friday, November 11, 2022james-700x300

“James advocates living faith and practical love. His concern is behavior. Like other moralists of his age, he is impatient with fine words that have no action . . . Faith without appropriate practice in love is a charade”. (Senior RG 548)

God says: My servant James has expressed my vision quite well in his letter to you, and my hope is that you spend time with his words and with me today. Choose a small portion of his verses and examine them well. He has an important message about how and why to endure trials. He gives you good advice about words and thoughts, deeds and gestures. James can teach you how to be authentic; he structures lessons on honesty and wisdom. He reminds you of my immense generosity and love for you. And he describes how you might be in the world and not become part of it. Listen to James and learn to live by my measure rather than your own for when you do . . . you will find that you are living a life of appropriate action.

Enter the words wisdom or generosity in the blog search bar and reflect on how our actions. live out God’s love in creation. Are they in and for God? Can we say that they are appropriate?


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 548. Print.   

Image from: https://kingdomnewtestament.wordpress.com/category/james/

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James 5:16-18: Our Common Practice

Thursday, November 10, 2022prayer

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

God says: Be honest with one another and you will find depths of rich love you have not taken in to account. Speak gently with one another and you will find strength in abundance. Make it your habit to set out each morning to do only what is good and holy and just. Pause at noon to check in with me as you day continues to unwind. Return home each evening and offer me all of your works – both the good and the not so good. If you have a restless night, spend time in prayer with me and I will bring you rest. Through your days and nights stay with me as your common practice and see what wonders I can perform in and through you.

When we make a list of all we wish to do, have many of the items involve God? When we make a list of our accomplishments, how many can we say embrace God? When we examine our relationships with others . . . how many show a loving and nurturing harvest for God?

Enter the words God Time in the blog search bar and as we explore other posts we might consider how much time we spend with our creator as our common practice.


Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/238268636521604678/

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James 5:8: Steady and Strong

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Andreas Achenbach: Ships in a Storm on the Dutch Coast

Andreas Achenbach: Ships in a Storm on the Dutch Coast

Wait for your valuable crops to mature as farmers do, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.

God says: I am always steadily at your back to protect you. I am always watching your path and leading you. I lend you my strength when you weary. I carry you on my shoulders when you cannot walk. I lead you beside still waters and I rescue you from overwhelming storms. I have given you gifts that I ask you to watch over and husband. You need not struggle and fight. You need not gather weapons or seek revenge. All you need do is remain steady and strong in me. I will do the rest. Strengthen your hearts for I am already with you.

ship tossedWe might use the scripture link to reflect on other versions of these verses and consider what gifts God has given us, to reflect on how we might be patient as we wait for our gifts to mature, and to remember that we need not fight . . . we need only remain steady and strong in God as the storms of roll over us.


Images from: https://www.art-prints-on-demand.com/a/achenbach-andreas/ships-in-a-storm-on-the-d.html and https://www.istockphoto.com/search/2/image?mediatype=illustration&phrase=ocean+storm

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James 4:4-6: Cheating on God

Tuesday, November 8, 2022giving-taking-receiving

You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? 

God says: I care. I care more deeply than you can imagine. I care not so much because of my separation from you but because of your separation from me. When you are content to spend hours, days, weeks, months and years away from me, I long for you. When you decide to remain in me I am joyous. I find that I cannot stay away from you and even when you believe yourself to be alone, I am with you. I understand the attraction the world has for you. Bright lights, applause and adulation, a sense of power and control, comfort levels that eliminate the need to grow . . . all of this gives you a sense of eternity and omnipotence; yet these are temporary circumstances. The eternal gift of life and love I offer you is more transformative than any you can envision or create for yourselves. The power you wield when you live in me is greater than any you can foresee. Re-read James’ words and listen for my voice. Spend time with these words and allow my Spirit to settle deep within your bones.

Generosity-handsWe know that the world holds great allure that cannot equal the gifts God offers freely. Let us spend time with James today and listen for God’s loving message that will call us and keep us home.

Listen to Krista Tippet’s On Being interview with Wharton School’s professor of psychology Adam Grant, Successful Givers, Toxic Takers and the Life We Spend at Work. The episode begins with a discussion of his book: Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. Listen at: https://onbeing.org/programs/adam-grant-successful-givers-toxic-takers-and-the-life-we-spend-at-work/ 

Is it right to ask tough questions that threaten the status quo? We have a chance to examine our own attitudes about giving when we listen to this interview.


Images from: https://cei.org/blog/a-billion-here-a-billion-there/ and http://www.benjamingran.com/2015/01/19/the-generosity-project-helping-people-find-jobs/

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James 3:13: The Gentleness of Wisdom

Monday, November 7, 2022c6a21-gentleness

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.

We spent time with James 3 several weeks ago when we considered living well, wisely and humbly, and at that time we reflected on how we might find joy in humility when the world so ably tells us that this cannot be so. And we considered the role of wisdom in the finding of this humility.

God says: In the world’s view, the wise are usually surrounded by servants and dwell in comfort. This is not my view. From the world’s perspective, the wise wield power and influence, they control people, resources and perspectives. This is not my perspective. In the world’s judgement, the meek of heart are silly doormats. This is not my judgment. In my view, the wise serve rather than demand service. From my perspective, the meek are more powerful than all the legions in the world. In my judgment, the wise know more than all the scholars of the world, and they are more loving in their gentle humility to me than all those who make false claim to wisdom.

phil 4-8Listen to Krista Tippet’s interview with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Enriched by Difference and reflect on healing violence by finding God in the face of the stranger, and the choice that God sets before us each day at: https://onbeing.org/programs/enriched-difference-jonathan-sacks-2/

Enter the word humility in the blog search bar and reflect on the gentleness of this quality . . . and how we might learn to live in this gentleness.

Spend time with Philippians 4 today and reflect on the gentleness of wisdom. 


Images from: https://quotesthoughtsrandom.wordpress.com/tag/gentleness/ and http://www.amazon.com/Whatever-Is-True-Philippians-Vinyl/dp/B009Z4C6NG

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James 3:7-10: Curses and Blessings

Sunday, November 6, 2022A_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_words

This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

We have a constant choice to tear down or lift up. This forked path is open to us each day. It is for us to determine whether we choose The Way that leads to light.

God says: I give you a tongue so that you might create speech that bolsters and praises, heals and lifts up. I also give you a free will that allows you to curse or bless my creation. You are meant as a blessing to others yet from time to time you will be their curse. The times when you feel so low that you lash out against others are proof to you that I am not trying to control your destiny. You are free to lift up or pull down. The times when you feel forgiveness are proof of my love for you. You are free to accept or reject me. The times you praise and thank me are proof that union with me is possible. You are free to come to me or leave me. When I offer you the choice of curses or blessings I also offer you hope, and peace and joy.

God touches each of us with a healing embrace. Jesus shows us how to convert our curses to blessings. The Spirit heals us in our struggle to choose life over death.

Enter the word speech in the blog search bar and reflect on the words we use, and the possibility of changing our curses to blessings. 


Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_words

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James 2:1: Favoritism


James 2:1: Favoritism

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Palm Springs Desert

Palm Springs Desert

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?

How do we recognize our own prejudices? What do we do once we see our own pre-conceived ideas?

Nevada High Desert

Nevada High Desert

God says: I understand how difficult it is to remove the beam from our eyes when you are focused in the splinters in the eyes of others. I also understand how difficult it is for some of you to believe that I love your enemies as much as I love you . . . and you cannot understand how or why I ask you to intercede for those who harm you; but the cry of the victim is especially acute to me. The plea of one who has been wronged for the one who did them damage is at the core of kingdom building. How can we place living stones next to one another when these stones are at war? I want you to understand that while you are each unique and distinct, you are not really separate from one another. This is why favoritism cannot be present in your lives.  

Badlands Desert

Badlands Desert

God sees each of us with loving eyes. Jesus shepherds all of us home to the creator. The Spirit lives within calling us to unity. James asks is to put aside our desire to set ourselves apart from creation. Jesus calls us into the Creator’s beautiful garden.

Enter the word desert in the blog search bar and examine how these arid places surprise us with their sudden, surprising beauty. Reflect on our desert journeys, our desert refuges, and our desert prayers. 

Look for other blooming deserts in other continents and reflect on how God brings beauty out of drought in all corners of the world.  


Images from: https://www.emeralddesert.com/desert-bloom-in-coachella-valley/ and https://jacciturner.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/blooming-in-the-desert-how-to-encourage-a-friend-experiencing-a-life-drought/ and http://www.lulu-webs.com/when-conditions-are-right-these-utah-deserts-explode-with-colourful-flowers/

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