Category Archives: James

Righteousness – A Word Study

Just finished reading Chapters 3 and 4 of Matthew’s Gospel.  There is so much there that it would take pages to discuss.  It is about His baptism by John and His temptation in the desert.  Satan was tempting Jesus’ identity as the Son of God.  He wants Him to embrace an earthly and political mission and thus subvert from His real mission of suffering and dying for our salvation.

Unlike us, Jesus could not have sinned at any time during His earthly life.  His “temptations” were entirely the suggestions of the devil and had nothing to do with any kind of inner struggle or disordered desire of a fallen nature.  We, of course, experience temptation because of our fallen nature.  However, just because He couldn’t sin, doesn’t mean that He didn’t show us how the devil should be treated when he comes around with his “suggestions.”

According to St. John Chrysostom, Jesus gives us a perfect example of Christian obedience.  Earthly life is our wilderness.  Our goal is to get to the “land” of heaven.  This life is like a probationary period for us.  God wills that we  overcome temptations (from the world, the flesh, and the devil) through the practice of penance and obedience to God’s word.   We must desire Christ’s humility.  And this is how we can increase the gift of righteousness:  penance, obedience, and humility.

Righteousness is a gift from God.  The word itself is used 7 times in Matthew and 85 times in the rest of the New Testament.  Christ first gives us this gift in Baptism when we are restored in our relationship as an adopted son or daughter of God.  It always means (from the Greek) the uprightness and faithfulness of God and His people.  It is part of the unique covenant vocabulary that runs throughout the old and new testaments.  God’s righteousness is because He is holy and is revealed as He takes care of Israel.  Now, He has demonstrated His righteousness through the saving work of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus wants us to be righteous, like He and His Father, are righteous.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind.  Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you.”  Jn 4: 7-8, 10

And, I might add, fill you with righteousness.

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What’s the Difference?

There was a little dust-up about a Michael Voris video that I shared called “Do Non-Catholics Go to Heaven?” I thought it was an interesting take on the question especially since we have been hearing so many unorthodox things from priests like the good Reverend R. Barron that we can have a reasonable hope that no one goes to hell.

In my immediate family that includes brothers, sister, their children, and grandchildren and my children and grandchildren—all who were baptized in the Catholic faith—there are only a handful that still attend Mass and believe in their faith and this handful includes my husband and myself.

This hurts me in my soul, because, as we believe, and that video pointed out, in order to get into heaven one has to be in the state of grace (no unrepentant, un-forgiven mortal sins) when one dies. Of course, there is an act of perfect contrition but I am going to say that an act of perfect contrition is probably beyond my feeble attempts because of pride so I need the Sacrament of Reconciliation or as those of us, who aren’t PC, call it, Confession; Just like I need all the sacraments that Jesus gave us as a means to sanctifying grace which we all need to get into heaven. Only the Catholic Church has these sacraments instituted by Christ to give grace. To me, it’s simple to say that I want everything I can have in my arsenal to get to heaven when I die.

I also believe that with God all things are possible so I pray each day for all of my family to return to the faith of their baptism and for some of my grandchildren to actually be baptized. Do I say anything to them personally about my fears? Do I tell them that I cry tears over their apostasy? No, I just love them where they are and pray for their reversion. Of course, I make no apologies for my Catholic Faith and don’t compromise my faith for their sake, so, of course, there are liable to be a few “dust-ups” when I post something that is hard for them to read or hear.

So, a good Protestant friend asked “what is the difference between a faithful Catholic and a faithful Christian?” I’m not sure she is serious about it or if it was meant as a “gotcha” question, so I’m not sure if I will answer it or not. I’ll probably find out first why she asked the question. However, there are some things that I will say.

We believe in Purgatory. We believe that there is a place where we have to be refined like gold in order to enter heaven and be in a Holy God’s presence. Now, no one can judge the individual soul just like I don’t judge my family’s individual souls, however I have a real problem with assuming that all my Protestant brothers and sisters are automatically with Jesus when they die. Sorry, we can only know who is in heaven when the Church has declared them saints. So I continue to pray for them as if they weren’t and are in Purgatory instead. My husband always kids me about how much I pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. I tell him that I am building an army of saints in heaven to pray for me so that I might avoid Purgatory all together.

We believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. We believe that it isn’t only Scripture (Sola Scriptura) but Scripture and Apostolic Tradition passed down from the Apostles to the Catholic Church. We believe that faith without works is dead. No Sola Fides for us. We take to heart Matthew 25 and the Sermon on the Mount. We want to be numbered among those who gave our Lord drink when He was thirsty, food when He was hungry, visited Him when He was in prison. . .you know the rest. No, our works don’t “save us.”   We boast in Christ and Him crucified just like Paul but we also believe like James, show me your works and I will show you your faith.

These are just some of the differences between a Protestant Christian and a Catholic Christian.

However with great blessings come great responsibilities! I believe that it will go worse for Catholics who had the faith and fell from it than those who never had the faith to begin with. That is why I pray for all my family to return to the One True Faith before they die.

Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

May all the Faithful Departed through the Mercy of God, rest in peace!

 

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The Transfiguration: A Vision of Hope

Jesus’ Transfiguration was all about sustainability for the Apostles.  He knew that they were going to witness some horrific things in Jerusalem shortly.  So, He showed them in a very dramatic way a vision of His glory; a vision of hope.  After the Resurrection and Pentecost, when they understood, they could hope that they would one day enjoy the glory of the full Beatific Vision once they had walked their own Via Dolorosa.

The Transfiguration neatly bridges the Old Covenant and the New: God’s love and justice to His love and mercy.  Along with Elijah and Moses, the “cloud of glory,” the Holy Spirit, which guided the Israelites in the desert, appears to the three apostles.  Jesus’ appearance shines bright and God the Father proclaims His Son to them.  Then, He says something else.  He says, “Listen to Him.”

I have read that Peter, James, and John glimpsed Jesus’ soul on Mt. Thabor.  They were given a small insight, as it were, into the Beatific vision.  They had been shaken by the announcement of His passion, so Jesus permitted some rays from His blessed soul to shine forth for a few minutes.  Jesus was allowing them to see the close connection between His suffering and death and His glory.  Our Divine Master was teaching them and us that it is impossible to reach the glory of the Transfiguration without passing through the suffering.  “Listen to Him.”

Look around you.  We are surrounded by sin and death: millions of pre-born humans murdered; the homosexual lifestyle promoted and celebrated; Christians persecuted and martyred; wars waged on many continents. Destruction is everywhere; sin abounds everywhere.  And, sin disfigures the soul.

Grace, however, transfigures the soul.  One lesson of the Transfiguration is that what has been disfigured by sin cannot regain its supernatural beauty (grace) except by purifying suffering.  Then, and only then, can we live the promise of Romans 8:18.  “For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us.”

On Thabor, after God the Father speaks, the vision disappears.  The apostles see no one but Jesus.  They come down the mountain with no one but Jesus.  This is another lesson of the Transfiguration.  God consoles us and gives us hope, yes; however, we must always see Him alone; Jesus alone.  He must suffice for us.  We must “Listen to Him.”

The time has come for us to repeat, “Jesus alone!” and to come down from Thabor with Him to follow Him, even to Calvary; especially to Calvary.  He is our All.  He alone suffices.

The colloquy from the Divine Intimacy for the second Sunday of Lent ends with this prayer that I share with you now as we continue our Lenten journey.  “The light and glory of Thabor encourage me.  Thank you, O Lord, for having allowed me, if only for a few moments, to contemplate Your splendor and to enjoy Your Divine Consolation.  Fortified and encouraged by this, I come down from this mountain to follow You, You alone to Calvary.”

I will listen to You.  You are enough!

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Valuable Pastoral Wisdom from St. James

Memory Verse

James 1:22  “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Introduction

St. James begins to offer some valuable pastoral wisdom right after we have focused on dealing with trials and tribulations.

“Know this, my beloved brethren.  Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.” (James 1: 19-20)  When I think about it, the pressures and stress of trials usually make me very slow to listen and faster to speak.  There used to be a psychologist friend of mine who said that anger is always the end emotion of something much deeper going on in our mind.  Sometimes it can just be a fear of losing someone or as explained by St. James, it can be the result of a trial we are going through.  These can be financial, health-related, relationship-related, work-related, family- related—the list of stressors can be unlimited in this earthly existence.

During times of trial (tension), we tend not to listen well because we are formulating in our head what we want to say while our conversation partner is trying to be heard.  Many communication problems can be traced to tension which can lead to anger, also.  St. James teaches us that as a Christian, we should be meek with a disposition that is receptive to learning as opposed to anger.  Anger  can carry with it an attitude that is demanding.

In addition, James tells us to do two things:

  1.  Put away filth and evil from your life and
  2. Welcome the word that has been planted in you.

He further warns us (just like a good pastor, does) that we must not fall into the deadly pattern of deception which is hearing the word of God but not doing it.  When we hear the word but don’t do it, we are deceiving ourselves and treating the Word as if it were powerless.  “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  (Hebrew 4: 12)

St. James

St. James

 

Next time:  Points to Ponder

 

 

 

 

@Home Work: 

  1. When it comes to anger, in what areas are you typically vulnerable?
  2. When talking to an acquaintance, can you tell if he/she is really listening to you?  How do you feel when you know he/she is not?
  3. Is there an area of your life that you find yourself repeatedly saying, “I really need to do something about that?”  What do you think is keeping you from doing it?
  4. How does society foster the idea that anger will achieve the desired goal in one’s life?
  5. Why are we particularly susceptible to anger when faced with trials?

 

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Putting the Word into Practice: James 1: 19-27

Memory Verse

James 1: 22  “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Notes on Content

1: 19-25:  Two kinds of hearing are distinguished.  In conversation, listening is more important than speaking.  In responding to the Gospel, obeying is more important than merely listening.

1:20  the anger of men:  When one reads the Wisdom literature it is apparent that anger is vented by the foolish.  Meekness is the virtue of gentleness and the inner strength to restrain anger.

1:21 implanted word:  The Gospel is likened to a seed planted in the soul that sprouts for the salvation of our soul.  This may be an allusion to the parable of the Sower and the Seed in Matthew 13: 1-9; 23.

1:23 a mirror:  If one hears the word only, she is like someone who glances at her reflection in the mirror and soon forgets what she has seen.  On the other hand, one who hears and obeys the Gospel is one who gazes into the law of Jesus and sees there the path to blessing and the life she desires to live.

1:26 bridle his tongue:  This is a warning that will be treated in detail in 3: 1-12.

1:27 Religion:  The Greek term is thresheia which generally denotes religious acts of worship.  For James, proper service to God is not reduced to a set of beliefs or liturgical rites.  It also includes prudent speech as well as practical service to others: visit orphans and widows.

CCC 2208:  “The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor.  There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help.  It devolves then on other persons, other families, and in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: ‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.'”

Sermon on the Mount References

1.  Hearing and Doing  Matthew 7:24-27

2.  Anger and Wrath  Matthew 5: 22

3.  The Perfect Law of Freedom  Matthew 5: 17-19

4.  Religious deception  Matthew 7: 21-23

St. James

St. James

Next time:  Pastoral Wisdom from St. James

@Home Work:  Have you ever:

  • been so angry that you said something you instantly wanted to take back?
  • struck by a point in a homily only to go home and forget it?
  • found yourself laughing at an inappropriate joke and afterward feeling badly inside?

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Answers From My Heart

Memory Verse

James 1: 2-4  “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Let’s Talk About It

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  What does this text say about God’s knowledge of you?

God must know me pretty well.  I always feel that even during my “Job” or “Jeremiah” moments that He has His arms wrapped around me and that as long as I cling to Him, things will be all right.  He knows my strengths and weaknesses way beyond my resume and I have come through some things that looking back seemed insurmountable challenges.  Now, I just KNOW that there is nothing that Jesus has not given me the strength to overcome–no trial or temptation is too big.

James describes sin as having a sort of gestation and maturation period.  He writes, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.”  everybody has “nursed” sin at some point in their lives.  How do we cut off that process of gestation, birth and maturity for sin in our lives?

The easy answer to this is to avoid the occasions of sin whatever they are.  Focus on the positive aspects of being a Catholic–the Mass, the Eucharist and especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Keeps the venial from becoming the mortal.

James tell us if we lack wisdom, “ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.”  What resources has God freely handed us by which we can gain wisdom?  How might we make those resources a part of our lives?  What obstacles stand in the way of gaining that wisdom?  How might they be overcome?

(See the last answer.)  Also, He has given us His Word to read and study to get to know Him.  Time is one of my biggest obstacles.  Someone asked a question last week on FB.  Do we spend more time on the computer than with God?  If we do then our priorities are really messed up.  That is one of the reasons I have been trying to limit my social media time to an hour each day. 

James tells us, “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  However, our lives are in continual states of change.  How do we take the “heavenly perspective” and see our constantly changing lives through the eyes of Him Who does not change?

It seems that my perspective has become more “heavenly” the older that I have gotten.  I judge everything now by will it get me to heaven or not.  This can drive some people crazy; especially those in my life who do not have the same outlook.  This question, though, can make decisions very easy to make.

When Israel conquered Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, Canaanites still remained in the land.  God said in Judges 2: 21-23 that He did not drive out all the Canaanites but left some in the land that He might test Israel, whether they would walk in the ways of the Lord.  With this in mind, and in light of your current trials, what might God be trying to do in your life in terms of walking in His ways?

I think I am tested a lot because of my Catholicism.  I work with all Protestants and find myself (not defending) but explaining things to people in a way that I hope will be “salt and light” to them.  Also, many of my children have fallen away from the Church that they were baptized in and while some of them continue to go to a church, it is not the same.  This and my granddaughter wanting to get involved with occult practices like crystal reading are my two main trials right now.  I am trying to live an authentic Catholic life as an example; however it is hard to do that when they live so far away from us.   I’m not sure what God is trying to do in my life over this; but I’m determined to walk in His ways to holiness.

So, now, what about you?  Do you have any comments?  I’d love to hear from you.

St. James

St. James

Next Time:  James–Study Two

@HomeWork:  During our study of James 1: 1-8 what did you learn that you have to “sweep” out of your life” (Spring Cleaning)  What do you think you should add? (New Additions)

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Let’s Talk About James 1: 1-8 & other stuff

Today I am going to put out a few questions based upon what we have been studying so far in the hope that you will consider them.  I would love it if you would write some comments about some of the questions.  I will answer one or two on Friday and then we will be ready to start Study 2 (James 1: 19-27) on Monday.  Notice that we are not studying these verses in the order written.

Memory Verse

James 1: 2-4  “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Let’s Talk About It

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful and He will not let you be twmpted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  What does this text say about God’s knowledge of you?

James describes sin as having a sort of gestation and maturation period.  He writes, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.”  everybody has “nursed” sin at some point in their lives.  How do we cut off that process of gestation, birth and maturity for sin in our lives?

James tell us if we lack wisdom, “ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.”  What resources has God freely handed us by which we can gain wisdom?  How might we make those resources a part of our lives?  What obstacles stand in the way of gaining that wisdom?  How might they be overcome?

James tells us, “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom thee is no variation or shadow due to change.”  However, our lives are in continual states of change.  How do we take the “heavenly perspective” and see our constantly changing lives through the eyes of Him Who does not change?

When Israel conquered Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, Canaanites still remained in the land.  God said in Judges 2: 21-23 that He did not drive out all the Canaanites but left some in the land that He might test Israel, whether they would walk in the ways of the Lord.  With this in mind, and in light of your current trials, what might God be trying to do in your life in terms of walking in His ways?

St. James

St. James

Next Time:  Spring Cleaning and New Additions.

@HomeWork:  Please try to answer at least one of the questions for yourself.  & share if you are so moved!

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