Being Doers of God’s Word
A Reflection for the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Based on readings from: Isaiah 35:4-7, James 2:1-5, Mark 7:31-37
By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church of New England
"My brothers, do not try to combine faith in Jesus Christ, our glorified Lord, with the making of distinctions between classes of people. Now suppose a man comes into your synagogue, beautifully dressed and with a gold ring on, and at the same time a poor man comes in, in shabby clothes, and you take notice of the well-dressed man, and say, ‘Come this way to the best seats’; then you tell the poor man, ‘Stand over there’ or ‘You can sit on the floor by my foot-rest.’ Can’t you see that you have used two different standards in your mind, and turned yourselves into judges, and corrupt judges at that? Listen, my dear brothers: it was those who are poor according to the world that God chose, to be rich in faith and to be the heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those who love him.” This reading from James 2:1-5 for could not be any clearer or a stronger reminder of how we are called, as Followers of Christ, to treat all the people we encounter on our journey of life.
We are told quite clearly not to discriminate against anyone. We are not do judge anyone as regards to their worship or their coming to seek God or ask forgiveness.
The only judge of a person in regards to their relationship with Almighty God is God Himself.
When we make assertions that this one or that one surely belongs in Hell we are assuming a power that belongs to God alone. Throughout the holy scriptures we find a common thread on how to live out our lives here on earth. From Jesus commandment to us, “love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34) to those of the readings for this Sunday..
We have been told in the past few weeks that it is how a person lives out their faith and not how much they say words of prayer that is important. We need to put action behind the prayers. We need to live so that when we face God He can say to us; “" 'You have done well, my good and faithful servant!' (Luke 19:17) “You have done well because “When I was hungry. And you gave me something to eat. When I was thirsty. you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger. you invited me in. When I needed clothes. you clothed me. When I was sick you took care of me. and when I was in prison. you came to visit me." '(MATTHEW 25:35-36)
Matthew 25:40 sums up how we can be real followers of Christ and how we need to live our lives in order for God to greet us with those words “Well Done my Good and faithful servant.” “Anything you did for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40 )
We have been called to Feed the hungry, Clothe the naked, Visit those in Prison, quench the thirst for those who thirst, care for the sick and aged and not discriminate. James wrote his letter or epistle to the people of the faith community of Jerusalem some time before he was executed in 62 AD. James if referred to as “The Brother of Christ”. James was the leader of “Bishop” of the Christian Community in Jerusalem and was one of the twelve that advised Paul on Christ’s teachings since Paul never actually knew Christ in person and all Paul writes about is second hand knowledge from those original apostles he actually had the opportunity to meet.
Chapter 2 of the first epistle of Peter begins, “Stop being hateful! Quit trying to fool people, and start being sincere. Don't be jealous or say cruel things about others.”.
In James’s first epistle chapter 1 verse 22-27 says: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; and once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
Just imagine how much this world could be changed for the better if each and every one of us were to live our lives in accord with these teachings. It is never too late to begin. We all have an opportunity to make a difference in this world. Look around and see where you can begin to serve God by serving others. This, I feel, is the message of this week and the message of how to live as a follower of Christ.
May God guide us and lead us in our service to Him today and always. AMEN