Remember this, my dear brothers: be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to rouse your temper; God’s righteousness is never served by man’s anger; so do away with all the impurities and bad habits that are still left in you – accept and submit to the word which has been planted in you and can save your souls. But you must do what the word tells you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves. To listen to the word and not obey is like looking at your own features in a mirror and then, after a quick look, going off and immediately forgetting what you looked like. But the man who looks steadily at the perfect law of freedom and makes that his habit – not listening and then forgetting, but actively putting it into practice – will be happy in all that he does.
Nobody must imagine that he is religious while he still goes on deceiving himself and not keeping control over his tongue; anyone who does this has the wrong idea of religion. Pure, unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world.
Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida, and some people brought to him a blind man whom they begged him to touch. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Then putting spittle on his eyes and laying his hands on him, he asked, ‘Can you see anything?’ The man, who was beginning to see, replied, ‘I can see people; they look like trees to me, but they are walking about.’ Then he laid his hands on the man’s eyes again and he saw clearly; he was cured, and he could see everything plainly and distinctly. And Jesus sent him home, saying, ‘Do not even go into the village.’
To listen to the word and not obey is like looking at your own features in a mirror and then… going off and immediately forgetting what you looked like
My head of department shared a quotation during a meeting. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. This was to emphasise the need to review practices constantly; to not carry on with those that have not borne fruit; to explore new ways of doings things that might better serve our needs.
In today’s first reading, James states the difference between acknowledging faith and putting it into practice. The one who just learns faith but does not practice it ends up in an insane cycle where there is no growth. After Christ cures the blind man in the gospel passage, he warns him against returning to the village from whence he came. The restored sight represented new life and the cured man should not return to do the same things he did in the village when he was blind.
Each of us has unique habits, some good ones and others bad. We innately know that bad habits need to be dropped. When it comes to our faith journeys, we have our own practices, for instance, the way we pray. If we find that our prayer life is not improving or even declining, then clearly there the way we pray is no longer working for us. My sisters and brothers, let us constantly review and reinvent ourselves, that our faith will always be relevant to our lives.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Aloysius Ting)
Prayer: We pray for wisdom to navigate the challenges of life.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for opening our eyes to new possibilities.