Posts Tagged ‘being doers of the Word’

Esther: Sincere Repentance

Filippo Lippi: Esther at the Palace Gate

Friday, February 23, 2018

Before we leave the story of Esther, we re-visit a Favorite from May 29, 2007. Today we consider the nature of our repentance as we move further into the season of Lent; and we commit to enacting the fidelity, hope, and love we profess.  

From the introduction in the New American Bible, “The book was intended as a consolation for Israel, a reminder that God’s providence continually watches over sincere repentance.” We have been hearing about sincerity versus insincerity in recent weeks. And again we see it today.

Yesterday’s first reading is from Sirach 17:24: “But the Lord will allow those who repent to return to him. He always gives encouragement to those who are losing hope.” And yesterday’s morning Psalm was 130: “My soul is waiting for the Lord, I count on his word. . . Because with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption, Israel indeed he will redeem from all its iniquity”.

There is hope for all; yet, how do we show our gratitude for redemption? By being doers of the word and not hearers or sayers only. We show our sincerity before the Lord by not deluding ourselves.

This morning’s reading is one of my favorites from James, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. 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.” (James 1:22-25)

May we be hearers, sayers, and doers of the Word. May we persevere in our doing. And may we, like Esther, live up to our potential in order that we too may save nations.

The book of Esther, with all of its additions and amendments, is a wonderful story. We must read it when we can.

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Titus 1False Teachers

Saturday, February 11, 2017beware_of_false_teachers_png_by_madetobeunique-d30spqt

This reflection was written on February 18, 2010 and is posted today as we reflect of false leaders, teachers, and the alternative facts they present as truth.

Paul is not the only one who warns early church members of false teachings and false teachers.  In Chapter 3 of his letter, James warns us that we must make the distinction between earthly and divine wisdom.  Throughout his letter he cautions us that faith without works is dead.  Words without action are meaningless (1:22).  And we humans are clever at rationalizing our actions, making sense where there is none to be made.  Today, we hear Paul’s words to Titus that he is to silence those who would spread falsehoods, he is to refute counterfeit arguments, he is to witness against the emptiness of any doctrine which does not carry the true message of the new Law of Freedom.

Like James, Paul speculates about what these false teachers may hope to profit for their own sordid gain.   As a minister designated to lead Christ’s flock, Titus is required to speak and act on the deception he hears and sees.  He is asked to call God’s people back to honesty and integrity.

How many of us are willing to do the same if it means we make our family, friends, and colleagues – and ourselves – uncomfortable?  Are we willing to act if we know that our words and actions may cause discomfort?  Are we prepared to give up our worldly wisdom for the divine?  Are we willing to sacrifice our earthly life in order to belong to God?

Both Paul and James remind us often that we are known by the fruit of our labor.  Our deeds either support or deny our claims about ourselves.  As we make our pilgrimage toward Easter, as we investigate what we are willing to change about ourselves, can we see the places in these verses where Paul speaks to us?  As stewards of God’s word, how do we live, how do we play, how do we work, and how do we pray?  Are we sayers of God’s word only as James challenges us to ask?  Or are we doers of the Word as well?  Are we following false teachers or – even worse – are we acting as false teachers?  Or do we seek to full members in the unifying body of Christ?  Do we exhort with sound doctrine to refute opponents?

Paul makes a simple list for us to use as a measuring stick for ourselves.  We may want to spend time with verses 7 through 9 sometime today as we explore God’s call to be . . . hospitable, a lover of goodness, temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled, holding fast to the true message as taught so that one will be able both to exhort with sound doctrine and to refute opponents.

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part II

Thursday, October 6, 2016order-chaos

A Favorite from September 28, 2009.

We do not want to stir or foment division.  As Christians and as those who live in the light we want to be able to say that we have added to the world’s serenity and not caused unhealthy competition; but when “serenity” is used to avoid doing and saying what needs doing and saying, this is not God’s uproar we initiate, it is the darkness.  We enter into God’s uproar when the marginalized are included, when bridges are built and wounds are healed.  Once we begin to look carefully at the tumult around us, we realize that there is a fine difference between chaos with its attendant prejudices and God’s uproar.  We see the former as the work of darkness; the latter as the work of the Holy Spirit.

When we become doers of the word and not hearers only, as St. James tells us in his letter, we also call people out of their comfort zones.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we ask questions about our own treasure trove, as Matthew and Peter suggest we do, we also ask others to think about the value of the wealth they have amassed.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we meet and overcome our own fears and do what others are afraid to do, we cause God’s uproar.

When we live in true charity with one another to pray for our enemies and when we refuse to conform to corruption, we cause God’s uproar.

When we insist on being open to possibilities without giving in to abuse, we cause God’s uproar.

When we tell of the marvels that God has wrought in our own lives, we cause God’s uproar.

Like Paul, when we enter a town and begin to tell the marvelous news that we do not have to retain the chains that imprison our bodies, minds and souls, we can expect pandemonium.  It is up to us to examine the din and the tumult to discover its origin, and if the upheaval is God’s we only need persevere and hold tightly to our hope.  Sometimes, like Paul, we will move on to the next town or to the next situation; but always – even through the devastation of earthquakes and the violence of storms – we will be accompanied by light . . . we will know that we have entered into God’s uproar . . . and that all will be well.

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James 1-5: God’s Yardstick – James

The Measure of God’s Lovecrayon heart

Sunday, January 31, 2016

We continue to look for God’s yardstick in the New Testament.

We are never in doubt about James’ dedication to Christ and in a way his letter is a Gospel to Christ’s followers for it outlines a clear roadmap for The Way Christ asks us to walk.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides . . .

Do we see our hardships as sheer gift?

Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.

Do we talk more than we do? Do we lead with our anger?

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

Do we hide from ourselves or do we know who we are?

Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God. And here you are abusing these same citizens! 

Do we live on the margins or in the comfortable center?

Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.

Are we impatient and petulant or enduring and resilient?

Friends, don’t complain about each other. A far greater complaint could be lodged against you, you know.

Do we appreciate more than we disparage?

Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

Are we willing to stay the course or do we look for quick fixes?

Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. 

How often and much do we pray? Are we willing to sing?

My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them.

Do we share the Good News or do we hold it to ourselves?

Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.

Are we willing to share Christ’s story? Do we take risks in Christ’s name to include more that we divide and love more than we fear? If so . . . we are following the measure of God’s love that James describes for us.

When we use the scripture link to compare THE MESSAGE version of these verses with translations that may be more familiar to us, we have the opportunity to explore the great measure of God’s love we are given to share.

Tomorrow, Stephen.


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James 2:1-13Partiality

Tuesday, October 6, 2015Screen-Shot-2013-08-20-at-11.07.57-AM

The Letter of James is based on Old Testament prophetic and sapiential books along with the teachings of Jesus Christ.  His doctrinal message is strong: it is not enough to hear and to believe the message of the Christ . . . one must live it fully as well.  Today’s citation calls us to think about the times when we have been partial in our fervor, partial in our love for Christ Jesus.

One of the easiest ways to measure ourselves in terms of Gospel passion is to look at how we interact with the poor. Not only the fiscally poor can use our support but the poor in spirit, the poor in energy, the poor in cognitive ability, the poor who enter the world and appear to cope with it but who are beaten down by the demands of life. James explains that our lives are meant to be lived as an intentional devotion to Christ and his work.  In James’ times – and in our own relativistic society in which we are encouraged to feel good rather than do good – James gives us much to ponder.

Today’s citation asks us to reflect on the ways in which we cajole one another to abandon God with statements like:  Get a grip, It’s time to get real, When are you going to grow up,  Just cope, What’s the matter with you, Everybody does this so what are you upset about.  The world around us lures into living lives which lack a purity of purpose.

We can assuage our conscience by giving of self to the poor, by working to improve unjust systems . . . when all the while forgetting to tend to the everyday relationships of family, friends and colleagues.  James encourages us to be whole in our worship of Christ, to be as intentional in our actions as we are in our thoughts and prayers. James calls us to the greatest part of ourselves . . . the Christ which is in each of us. James calls us to union in and through and with Christ.

This alone ought to be our mission.

Adapted from a favorite written on October 21, 2008.

Click on the image above to explore quotes from Pope Francis about the poor, or visit: http://www.confrontglobalpoverty.org/our-faith-global-poverty/church-teachings/quotes-poverty-pope-francis/ 


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James 1:26-27: Reaching Out

Monday, October 5, 2015beadoeroftheword

We benefit from James’ clarity at the end of this first chapter. How do we become doers of the Word and not sayers onlyWhat does it take to enter into solid and holy relationships with others? Humility, honesty, and care for the marginalized.

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

In these opening verses James gives us a view of the whole person who enters into the work of the kingdom with a full heart and willing hands. We do more than we say. We give more than we receive. We look to God for all things rather than looking to the world.

Use the scripture link to compare different versions of these verses, and allow the humility and truth of Christ to govern your day.

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James 1:22-25: Delight and Affirmation

Sunday, October 4, 2015doersoftheword

More wisdom from James . . . that he learns from Jesus.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

When we read Matthew 21:28-32 we better understand James’ eagerness that we become doers of the Word rather than sayers only. The young man who does God’s will after first rejecting God’s call drinks from the river of light that is God’s wisdom. The one who promises and goes away without doing what he is asked has condemned himself to a life void of wisdom.

But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

 And so we pray.

Wise and loving God, you have given us all the counsel and advice we need. Help us to be humble and patient in your Word.

Passionate and transforming Jesus, you have shown us the Way that is God’s Word. Help us to delight in the life you have redeemed for us.

Compassionate and healing Spirit, you have affirmed our lives as sisters and brothers in Jesus. Help us to affirm others as they – and we – join with you in the doing of God’s Word. Amen.

In the coming days, James defines God’s Law of Love.

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