I’ve talked before about how I spent a lot of my summers growing up going to Good News Day camp – it was an interdenominational bible camp for kids. And one of the things we had to do everyday was to memorize a bible verse. One of them is in our Second Reading today – Be Ye Doers of the Word and not hearers only. That verse has always stayed with me.
James goes on in that letter to tell us that Faith without Works is dead – that what we profess must be put into action in our lives. Thru things like caring for orphans and widows, for the poor, the afflicted, anyone and everyone in need and by keeping oneself unstained by the world.
So let us look at our lives and ask ourselves the question, do we do that? Or are the words we say here, the actions we piously make here, is it all just a defiled act of faith by which we delude ourselves into feeling better about our lives. I think it’s important to be honest with ourselves about these things.
I said this a few weeks ago and it certainly still applies – you and I can’t change all the big things going on out there these days, but we can change ourselves. We can conform every part of our lives to Jesus, and no longer be satisfied with a deluded sense of faith. But that requires us to be Doers of the Word, and not Hearers only. To unite our hearts fully to Jesus.
It requires action on our part – actions of boundless charity – a faith that truly lives out the Gospel. And like Jesus says, it’s not the stuff that comes to us from the outside that stops us – but rather it’s the stuff that comes from within us that defiles us and screws up our relationship with Him – For from our own hearts, no finger pointing at others, only to ourselves, from within our own hearts come things like evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly – all these evils come from within us, and they are what defile us, what wreak havoc in our lives, what separate us from God and ultimately keep us from right relationship with Him.
We all have to work at ridding our lives of those things – and that takes a constant conscious effort of action and repentance – there is no easy way to follow Jesus, if we think there is then we are deluding ourselves! Everytime those feelings or sentiments that Jesus named enter our minds or well up within us, we have to surrender them to Jesus – not indulge in them. No matter how often we have to keep turning them over, we gotta keep doing it.
I am convinced that if the faith we profess with our lips here in this place was actually lived out in the ordinary moments of our everyday lives – then the world, the Church, our Parish, our families, our own lives would be much different places. If we would only be faithful.
That needs to be our daily focus – keeping our lives fixed on Jesus - that we all might be Doers of the Word, and not Hearers only. God help us all. +