“Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.” (James 2:18)
The saying goes: “Actions speak louder than words.” We are not what we say we are, rather we are what we do. Jesus told us that it is when we allow our light to shine that the world gets to know we are children of God. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) If you say you believe in God, then your belief must reflect in your lifestyle; there should be something about you that immediately points to God.
We cannot say we believe in God when we fail to love our neighbours as ourselves. No wonder St. John would categorically state: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20).
St. James condemns the practice of giving preferential treatment to the rich while neglecting the poor making us understand that if we fail to feed the hungry stomachs around us, our so-called faith is useless and dead.
“If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2:15-17). What is the point of our going to church if others do not benefit from it?
I have heard how people were kind to strangers, giving them a lift on their vehicles not knowing they were armed robbers, stories of beggars who turned out to be agents of darkness, stories of how persons helped their own family members only to be stabbed in the back afterward and so on and so on. The list is just endless. Are we then to stop being kind because of our painful experiences in the past?
Jesus answers this question in our Gospel passage today. He reminds us that being a child of God is not supposed to be an all-rosy ride. He said: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)
In other words, even if our desire to do good for others brings about our death, we should be sure to gain eternal happiness in the life to come. If we are ashamed to witness to Christ by our life here on earth, Jesus would be ashamed to call us his own in the life to come.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to forgive those who have hurt me in the past, open my heart to be more kind especially to those who can never pay me back. Amen.
Bible Study: James 2:14-24,26, Ps. 112:1-6, Mark 8:34-9:1).