“Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:15-16)
St. James in today’s first reading warns us against the vice of boasting in our personal efforts and plans. As St. James puts it, we tend to make plans for the future as if we are in charge of our own lives when in fact, we do not even know what tomorrow holds.
Hence, as the Psalmist says: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:1-2).
It is indeed a mark of arrogance for us to beat our chest and boast as though we are gods. As James admonishes us, whenever you are making any plan, begin by saying: “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” Always have the humility to realize that the will of God and not your own will must prevail.
In today’s Gospel passage, the disciples of Jesus reported how they found a man who was not even a disciple of Jesus casting out demons using the name of Jesus. They forbade him for “practising without a licence” but to their surprise, Jesus condemned their actions. He said: “Do not forbid him…” in other words, “the fact that he is not one of us does not mean he is our enemy.”
This episode teaches us that there is so much power in the Name of Jesus. The name itself works. As St. Paul would say: “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11).
Indeed, if we must boast at all, there is only one name we can fully rely upon; it is the name of God. Only God deserves such a high level of confidence and trust.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to humble myself always and love my brothers and sisters regardless of church affinity.
Bible Study: James 4:13-17, Ps. 49:2-3,6-11, Mark 9:38-40).