“Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like.” ~James 1:22-24
We come to Mass and hear the Holy Word of God proclaimed. We hear it and believe it. Very often, we hear scripture that applies to experiences in our lives or we receive advice that speaks directly to our hearts on any given day.
If I am honest with myself, I know that I don’t always apply what I hear or what I believe at all times. I can come up short. It’s not because I don’t hear what is spoken. I do hear. It’s not because I don’t believe what I hear. I do believe. It is because I sometimes do not take the true message from God and place it directly in my heart. I am also guilty of being tempted by my own desires, tuning out God’s will for my life. As I said, I can come up short.
The image of the mirror from the quote of the Letter of James intrigued me. I hadn’t read it before, or if I did, I didn’t remember it. Actually, my first thought was, did they really have mirrors in antiquity? Then, I focused on the content of the verse and the message it was conveying.
Often people tell me they are frustrated, anxious, or concerned about many things. I can honestly say that reading the word of God through scripture often alleviates my uneasiness. After reading the quote from James, I read the Letter of James, and it gave me great comfort and peace. The Letter offers advice for ethical living. It speaks not of rules or laws, but of sound counsel and guidance for a peaceful, hopeful life. It offers a good examination of conscience. Do I persevere when challenges come along trusting in God? Am I tempted by my own desires which causes me to turn from God and toward sin? Do I do what Christ asks of me and do I love my neighbor as myself? Do I put my faith into action, looking after the needs of others? Do I speak unkindly or with judgment of others? Do I cultivate peace or do I create division? Am I patient, forgiving, and merciful? Do I draw near to God so that He will draw near to me? I am reminded about who I am supposed to be. I am a disciple of Christ, and as such, I commit myself to trust in God through Jesus Christ.
I know that if I want to have love in my life, I must cultivate love. If I wish for peace, I must be a peaceful, tolerant, patient person. If I desire hope, wisdom, courage, and forgiveness, I must first plant those seeds in my own heart and then live them to the best of my ability. If I am looking to dispel division with others, I can respectfully listen, and then, if necessary, agree to disagree without hateful language or actions. Finally, it is really up to me. As a disciple, it is my obligation, my Christian responsibility, to value the dignity of all people knowing each of us is made in the likeness and image of God himself.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” ~Jesus Christ