We’ve been listening to the Letter of James in Mass this week. The beautiful Catholic Letter that Martin Luther described as a Letter of Straw (No wonder I didn’t like the clergyman in Så som i himmelen).
Yesterday’s reading focused on the theme of faith being meaningless without works. This is so true, and after the week I had had, it came as a timely reminder.
There is a marvellous part in Friday’s reading where James is explaining that if someone is in need of food and clothes and you say to them ‘”I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty” without giving them the bare necessities of life, then what good is that?’ This particular line was read beautifully at the Mass I attended, one could almost feel James in the church with us the message came home so clearly.
The idea of faith without works was driven home at that Mass, but what is work? It’s not for me to mind how badly people treat me. Yes it’s one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy to admonish sinners, but another is to bear wrongs patiently. And this is what I have to do.
The Lord’s work is hard and considering the pay, it should be. We are working for a such a great reward that hard work we must do. If we take on the hard task of speaking to someone to make peace and they don’t let us, they just speak over us, avoid our questions and eventually just walk away or put the phone down, that’s really not for us to judge, although we do. If someone calls me ‘the demented deacon’ it’s not for me to judge their lifestyle as lesser, I am called to pray for them, which at times I have done with a burning heart (and not in a good way) with resentment rushing through my veins and a head full of prayerless subtexts, just hoping that God will hear what is needed.
Faith without work is meaningless, boasting worthily of our love of the Church and her tradition, spouting that we truly understand the meaning of heavenly joy via the sound of a tambourine, feeling smug that ‘those vestments aren’t used in our church’ may define your faith and your belief in God, but does it define your love and your work.
After all, as James tells us, the demons have the same belief.