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from fathers desk

Dear Friends in Christ,

We continue with the Letter of James this week in our message series Heart Matters!

From our take, the letter is an exhortation to engage our whole being in living the Gospel. We are not called to be merely hearers but doers, those who show the beauty and power of our faith through good deeds. Not just good things done, but works accomplished in faith for love of God and neighbor.

The passage this week (Jas 3:16 - 4:3) is quite challenging. James must have been a fiery preacher! He contrasts jealousy and ambition with wisdom, while bringing to light the hard truth that passions or disordered affections cause “wars” with us. Towards the end of the section (beyond the text for Sunday) we find the remedy to what ails us: “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you,” (4:8).

Truly our verse goes into greater detail. The whole reads “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds,” reminding the hearer of these disorders and the need to purify our hearts. Again, the biblical heart being the center or deepest core of our existence.

Our passage parallels well the Gospel (Mk 9:30-37). The disciples were arguing along the way about who is the greatest. Jesus disarms them by placing a child in their midst and teaching, the first must be the last. Their ambition has led to folly. It is not about being first, but taking the lowest place, the place of the child in their society. Think: children should be seen and not heard times ten.

Let us return to James’ counsel: draw near to God and he will draw near to you. God has come so close to us in the incarnation, probably the greatest act of humility. Do we think of Jesus as one absolutely humble?

God exists beyond time and space. The Creator of all, God - Father, Son and Spirit - is not limited by the 13.6 billion years of our Milky Way galaxy nor the approximate 93 billion light years over which our entire universe stretches. Think of it: space measured in the time it takes light to travel a year. Light takes about 8 minutes for light to get from our sun to earth. Amazing! God is beyond all that, “bigger” - immeasurable.

And yet the eternal Logos comes close. The Second Person takes flesh and walks among us, in the fullness of humanity save sin. Our humble God places his arms around a child to try and cure the disciples from the blindness and folly of their pride. The key to greatness is humility. James also quotes Proverbs 3:34 “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

We might conclude that drawing near to the humble God who comes close begins with our own humility, by putting away our expectations and demands, by being little, powerless and childlike.

I just love that prayer from Catherine Doherty that I have shared with you before: “Lord give me the heart of a child and the awesome courage to live it out!” It is probably a prayer we could learn to offer each day.

Yours in the Lord!

Fr. Joel Wilson