Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
The readings from today’s Mass can inspire us to do all we can to help refugees and our persecuted brothers and sisters. The second reading in particular, from the Letter of James, challenges us not only to study the Scriptures and pray, but to act: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.” Jesus Himself made the same point in a parable He told (see Matthew 7: 24-27): “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.”
That person will stand firm. But the one who hears the word and doesn’t act on it will collapse: “And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who build his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”
What does it mean to act on the word? James continues: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” Acting on the word means loving as Jesus loved and serving others.
—Fr. James Kubicki, S.J.
Lord you reveal to us that “if people do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.” Lord, before we speak of another, let us pause to ask this question. “What is my intent in criticizing another or passing on information about that person?” What if we spoke about another as if the person were present? We would certainly avoid a mean spirited conversation. If we lived with such integrity, then we would be loyal to the person present by being loyal to the person absent. Lord, deepen our commitment to this sacred premise and protect and nurture our family members and friends so we can speak the truth with courage and consideration.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team, S.J.