Thu, 20 February 2014
(Jas.2:14-24,26; Ps.112:1-6; Mk.8:34-9:1)
“Faith without works is as dead as a body without breath.”
How dead indeed is a body without breath; how short a time we can go without breathing before dying. And so how much is our faith dependent on works to remain alive.
Brothers and sisters, we are human, we have bodies – of the earth, of flesh and bone, we are. We are not angels. And having bodies we must use what God gave us, what we are: it is in such action we prove the worth of our salt. We cannot sit by idly while another suffers and call ourselves Christian; we cannot prove our faith other than by actions. We must work out our call. We must “take up [our] cross and follow in [Christ’s] steps.” Sitting by the side of the road will get us nowhere. Just as Abraham showed His belief in God by taking his son to be sacrificed, so must we move as the Lord calls.
And He calls us to service, He calls us to love. He calls us to lay down our lives for the sake of others. And this not just in thoughts or words, but in deeds. We must be as He who “dawns through the darkness, a light for the upright” and conduct our “affairs with justice.” If we are ashamed of Jesus and the doctrine of the cross He preaches, if we hide our light under a bushel basket afraid to speak or act in His name, He makes quite clear that He will be “ashamed of [us] when He comes with the holy angels in the Father’s glory.” Profession of faith alone is not sufficient to enter “the reign of God established in power”; we must practice what is preached.
Was not Jesus of flesh and bone? Did He not perform great works in our midst? And does He not still perform great works through us His Church; or are we now angels flying at heaven’s gate? Flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone we must be, or we are nothing worth. We eat His body and drink His blood and shoulder His cross to find “the wealth and riches [that] shall be in His house,” that will live eternally.
(It occurs to me that the quote could be reversed to be phrased more literally: “Faith without works is dead as breath without a body,” wandering aimlessly; but it would not get across the dire need for works quite so forcefully.)
O LORD, man and woman are one
and are brought together in your will;
in our covenants let us reflect your mercy
YHWH, give us your patience in enduring all things. You are kind and merciful; let us be like you. Help us to practice your compassion in our marriages and in all our relationships – let us be ready as you to forgive. Yes, let all our sins be put far from us.
If we endure with you, O LORD, shall we not be blessed? If with you we practice patience and kindness when put to the test, will we not share in your reward? Let us be so joined to you, LORD, that we may indeed be called your Body in this world.
O my LORD, let us never be divorced from love of one another or love of you. Let our covenants be sure as your own; for you have promised to be with us even till the end of the age, and so, should we abandon one another? Would this not be an abandonment of you?
Let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, O LORD, and let us therefore live forever in your eternal Word, in the truth and love only you hold.