From James, servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Greetings to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion.
My brothers, you will always have your trials but, when they come, try to treat them as a happy privilege; you understand that your faith is only put to the test to make you patient, but patience too is to have its practical results so that you will become fully-developed, complete, with nothing missing.
If there is any one of you who needs wisdom, he must ask God, who gives to all freely and ungrudgingly; it will be given to him. But he must ask with faith, and no trace of doubt, because a person who has doubts is like the waves thrown up in the sea when the wind drives. That sort of person, in two minds, wavering between going different ways, must not expect that the Lord will give him anything.
It is right for the poor brother to be proud of his high rank, and the rich one to be thankful that he has been humbled, because riches last no longer than the flowers in the grass; the scorching sun comes up, and the grass withers, the flower falls; what looked so beautiful now disappears. It is the same with the rich man: his business goes on; he himself perishes.
The Pharisees came up and started a discussion with Jesus; they demanded of him a sign from heaven, to test him. And with a sigh that came straight from the heart he said, ‘Why does this generation demand a sign? I tell you solemnly, no sign shall be given to this generation.’ And leaving them again and re-embarking, he went away to the opposite shore.
When (trials) comes, try to treat them as a happy privilege
One thing that I learned early on in my teaching practice was that students should be encouraged to try. The correct answer was not as important as the effort to step out of their comfort zone and build confidence. It is a philosophy I put into place with all my classes and it was heartening to see that some of the shy students eventually contributed in discussions as well.
In today’s first reading, James addresses the Jewish Christians. In facing persecutions, he extols them to try to treat them as great opportunities to grow holistically as followers of Christ. As one of the apostles, James would be well aware that this is easier said than done. He therefore focuses not on the end goal of the model Christian but explains how the trials will slowly build his readers up. The gospel passage features a contrasting attitude from the Pharisees. They were unwilling to try to believe in Christ and thus experienced no growth.
There is a phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” that is supposed to be guide Christians in decision making. I can attest to how knowing the right choice is not enough. It must be selected and then carried out. Therein is the challenge. My sisters and brothers, living righteously is not always easy and our forefathers know this well. Instead of giving up, let us just try.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Aloysius Ting)
Prayer: We pray for hearts and minds that will be open to new experiences.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for opportunities to test ourselves.