August 2, 2020, James 1:1-12 – ISSL Reflections

We begin this week a journey with some of the “encouragement” the Epistle of James offers us. (Is it an “encouragement” or a “warning”?)

Let’s start as usual by reading the scripture a couple of times and reading it prayerfully and slowly enough for it to begin to find a place of rest in our minds and hearts.

James 1:1-12 (NRSV)

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.

Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

First, count yourselves as among those “tribes in the Dispersion” to whom the epistle is addressed. After all, we are certainly dispersed or spread out these days

Is he addressing you when he speaks of trails and testing?

For you, what trails and testing comes to mind today?

James tells us we should consider such things, “nothing but joy.”

My first reaction to James’ comment is, “Sure! You can say that! But what do you know about what I am facing?”

Maybe I am reacting too negatively. James might think so.

But, then he does say, “… let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Does he know first hand that we do not get to “mature and complete” in an instance? After all, tradition tells us he was not among the first to follow Jesus. It took him a while to be counted among the disciples. And yet he comes to be a leader among the disciples in Jerusalem.

Take some time to recall what has helped you move toward maturity.

Is it simply a matter of time?

Do only the “positive” things in your life help you move toward maturity?

Are there times or events you counted as negative and yet in retrospect see that it helped move you toward maturity?

Are there bothersome things now you may want to think about differently?

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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