Recognizing not only the Lord’s mercy for us, but also the compassion He wants us to share with others
Reflections on the readings for the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 5, 2021): IS 35:4-7; PS 146:6-7,8-9,9-10; JAS 2:1-5; MK 7:31-37
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Christ loves us and wants our love. But He also wants His people to commit ourselves to love, really love, one another.
In the second reading, we hear St. James exhorting members of the early Church to have a clear understanding of the relationship we need to have with other people. Jesus told those who followed Him to love one another. This was never meant to be less essential than our love for Him. Our Lord binds our love and friendship with Him to that for others. The way we see and treat those around us reveals our love for Jesus. A Christ-centered point of view is often opposite the way the secular world looks at things. And just as we have problems with this today, they certainly did in the early days of the Church. Otherwise, James would not have had to remind them to examine their attitudes and actions – and to change them when they were out of sync with those of our Savior. He gives the example of two people who enter the assembly of the faithful. One is obviously wealthy. He has gold rings and expensive clothes. But the next man looks poor, even shabby. The first is courteously invited to sit down. The second is told to just stand or even to sit at their feet. “Show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.… have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:1, 4-5)
It may sound harsh to call those who treat others with such prejudice “judges with evil designs.” Yet it is true. If we say we are followers of Christ, how can we act contrary to His way. Christ loves us and wants our love. But He also wants His people to commit ourselves to love, really love, one another.
Suggested missionary action: Let us look more closely, today and regularly, at the way we treat others, both those near to us, acquaintances, and strangers. Let us recognize that the way we express our faith and love for the Lord is by the way we relate to others.