Reflecting on James 3:16-4:3
If you’ve been feeling unusually at home with the readings lately it’s because we have been hearing the Letter of James. In some ways it’s a welcome relief to read a letter from the end of the first century that is so accessible to our contemporary western ears.
Where DO the wars and conflicts among us come from? Most of us aren’t in a position to send troops into war, but have we done everything we can to heal a decades-long rift in the family? And that begs a second question: Why ARE all these family enmities allowed to go on and on? Are we really going to have another Thanksgiving/Christmas season ahead where there will be separate dinners for separate families because siblings haven’t spoken to each other in years? At what point will grace be invited to the table?
It’s God’s amazing grace that allows us to submit to each other and truly listen to each other purely, peaceably, gently, compliantly, full of mercy and good fruits, without insincerity.
But we don’t work like that. Unless we’re in boot camp (or singing at the Met) we don’t think we should have to take any criticism or correction. We like all conversations to be easy, and our “true friends” to take our side even when we are wrong. A word of correction at the dinner table signals a polite silence and early departure. We can no longer be friends.
The years go by, and the broken families pile up, and September comes and we dread the holidays ahead. And the ancient Christian community to whom James writes whispers to us through the ages: get over it.
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).